U.S. Department of Agriculture: Forest Service -- National Agroforestry Center


Date of this Version



Remote Sensing of Environment 108 (2007) 467–480; doi:10.1016/j.rse.2006.11.027


Burn severity is mapped after wildfires to evaluate immediate and long-term fire effects on the landscape. Remotely sensed hyperspectral imagery has the potential to provide important information about fine-scale ground cover components that are indicative of burn severity after large wildland fires. Airborne hyperspectral imagery and ground data were collected after the 2002 Hayman Fire in Colorado to assess the application of high resolution imagery for burn severity mapping and to compare it to standard burn severity mapping methods. Mixture Tuned Matched Filtering (MTMF), a partial spectral unmixing algorithm, was used to identify the spectral abundance of ash, soil, and scorched and green vegetation in the burned area. The overall performance of the MTMF for predicting the ground cover components was satisfactory (r2=0.21 to 0.48) based on a comparison to fractional ash, soil, and vegetation cover measured on ground validation plots. The relationship between Landsat derived differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (dNBR) values and the ground data was also evaluated (r2=0.20 to 0.58) and found to be comparable to the MTMF. However, the quantitative information provided by the fine-scale hyperspectral imagery makes it possible to more accurately assess the effects of the fire on the soil surface by identifying discrete ground cover characteristics. These surface effects, especially soil and ash cover and the lack of any remaining vegetative cover, directly relate to potential postfire watershed response processes.