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Burned-area from Landsat 5 TM multi-date imagery during the burning season of year 2007 across the different biomes in South Africa

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posted on 2024-05-16, 08:50 authored by Philemon TselePhilemon Tsele

Biomass burning in Southern Africa has brought significant challenges to the research society as a fundamental driver of climate and land cover changes. Burned area mapping approaches have been developed that generate large-scale low and moderate resolution products made with different satellite data. This consequently afford the remote sensing community a unique opportunity to support their potential applications in e.g., examining the impact of fire on natural resources, estimating the quantities of burned biomass and gas emissions. Generally, the satellite-derived burned area products produced with dissimilar algorithms provide mapped burned areas at different levels of accuracy, as the environmental and remote sensing factors vary both spatially and temporally.


This study focused on the inter-comparison and accuracy evaluation of the 500-meter Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) burned area product (MCD45A1) and the Backup MODIS burned area product (hereafter BMBAP) across the main-fire prone South African biomes using reference data independently-derived from multi-temporal 30-meter Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) imagery distributed over six validation sites. The accuracy of the products was quantified using confusion matrices, linear regression and subpixel burned area measures. The results revealed that the highest burned area mapping accuracies were reported in the fynbos and grassland biomes by the MCD45A1 product, following the BMBAP product across the pine forest and savanna biomes, respectively. Further, the MCD45A1 product presented higher subpixel detection probabilities for the burned area fractions <= 50% than the BMBAP product, which appeared more reliable in detecting burned area fractions > 50% of a MODIS pixel. Finally, the results demonstrated that the probability of identifying a burned area within a MODIS pixel is directly related to the proportion of the MODIS pixel burned and thus, highlights the relevance of fractional burned area during classification accuracy assessment of lower resolution remotely-sensed products using data with higher spatial resolution.

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Department/Unit

Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology

Sustainable Development Goals

  • 13 Climate Action