Mapping burn severity of forest fires can contribute significantly to understanding, quantifying and monitoring of forest fire severity and its impacts on ecosystems. In recent years, several remote sensing-based methods for mapping burn severity have been reported in the literature, of which the implementations are mainly dependent on several field plots. Therefore, it is a challenge to develop alternative method of mapping burn severity using limited number of field plots. In this study, we proposed a support vector regression based method using multi-temporal satellite data to map the burn severity, evaluated its performance by calculating correlations between the predicted and the observed Composite Burn Index, and compared the performance with that of the regression analysis method (based on dNBR). The results show that the performance of support vector regression based mapping method is more accurate (RMSE
= 0.46–0.57) than that of regression analysis method (RMSE
= 0.53–0.68). Even with fewer training sets, it can map the detailed distribution of burn severity of forest fires and can achieve relatively better generalization, compared to regression analysis burn severity mapping methods. It could be concluded that the proposed support vector regression based mapping method is an alternative to the regression analysis method in small sample size scenarios. This method with excellent generalization performance should be recommended for future studies on burn severity of forest fires.
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