Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2012


Great Plains Research 22 (Spring 2012):15-25


© 2012 Copyright by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Prescribed burning is commonly used to prevent succession oftallgrass prairie to woody vegetation, which preserves the prairie's value to ranching and native wildlife. However, burning has negative effects as well, including potentially harming wildlife and releasing pollutants into the atmosphere. Research concerning the effects of fire on vegetation dynamics, wildlife, and air quality would benefit greatly from maps of burned areas in the Flint Hills, as no reliable quantification of burned areas currently exists. We used Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite imagery to map burned areas in the Flint Hills for each year from 2000 to 2010. Our maps revealed the total amount and spatial pattern of burning for each year. They also revealed the frequency with which different parts of the study area were burned during the II-year study period. Finally, our maps showed that nearly all burning took place during the month of April.