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An improved algorithm for mapping burnt areas in the Mediterranean forest landscape of Morocco

Zidane, Issameddine, Lhissou, Rachid, Bouli, Abdelali, Mabrouki, Mustapha
Journal of forestry research 2019 v.30 no.3 pp. 981-992
Mediterranean climate, algorithms, desertification, ecosystems, forest fires, forests, landscapes, moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer, monitoring, remote sensing, summer, surveys, Morocco
The identification of burnt forests and their monitoring provide essential information for the suitable management and conservation of these ecosystems. This research focuses on the use of remote sensing with MODIS sensor data in a Mediterranean environment, precisely in the Rif region known for its high occurrence of forest fires and the largest burnt areas in Morocco. It mapped the burnt areas during the summer of 2016 using spectral indices from MODIS images, namely the Normalized Burn Ratio (NBR) and the Burnt Area Index for MODIS (BAIM). Two field surveys were used to calibrate spectral indices and validate the maps. First, a monotemporal analysis using a single pre-fire image determined the appropriate threshold of the spectral indices (BAIM and NBR) for burn detecting. Secondly, a multitemporal method was applied based on dBAIM and dNBR images which represented pre-fire and postfire differences of the BAIM and NBR images, respectively. The results show that separate use of monotemporal postfire and multitemporal methods produced an overestimation of the burnt areas. Finally, we propose a new algorithm combining both methods for burnt area mapping that we name Burnt Area Algorithm. MCD45A1 and MCD64A1 MODIS burnt area products were compared to the proposed algorithm. Validation of the estimated burnt areas using reference data of the Moroccan High Commission for Water, Forests and Fight against Desertification showed satisfactory results using the proposed algorithm, with a determination coefficient of 0.68 and a root mean square error of 44.0 ha.