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Open AccessArticle

Using Long-Term SAR Backscatter Data to Monitor Post-Fire Vegetation Recovery in Tundra Environment

State Key Laboratory of Geodesy and Earth’s Dynamics, Institute of Geodesy and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430077, China
Earth Science System Programme, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong 999077, China
Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Geodynamics and Geohazards, School of Earth Sciences and Engineering, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Zhuhai), Zhuhai 519000, China
Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation, Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa, ON K1A 0E4, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(19), 2230;
Received: 24 August 2019 / Revised: 18 September 2019 / Accepted: 21 September 2019 / Published: 25 September 2019
Wildfires could have a strong impact on tundra environment by combusting surface vegetation and soil organic matter. For surface vegetation, many years are required to recover to pre-fire level. In this paper, by using C-band (VV/HV polarization) and L-band (HH polarization) synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images acquired before and after fire from 2002 to 2016, we investigated vegetation change affected by the Anaktuvuk River Fire in Arctic tundra environment. Compared to the unburned areas, C- and L-band SAR backscatter coefficients increased by up to 5.5 and 4.4 dB in the severely burned areas after the fire. Then past 5 years following the fire, the C-band SAR backscatter differences decreased to pre-fire level between the burned and unburned areas, suggesting that vegetation coverage in burned sites had recovered to the unburned level. This duration is longer than the 3-year recovery suggested by optical-based Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) observations. While for the L-band SAR backscatter after 10-year recovery, about 2 dB higher was still found in the severely burned area, compared to the unburned area. The increased roughness of the surface is probably the reason for such sustained differences. Our analysis implies that long records of space-borne SAR backscatter can monitor post-fire vegetation recovery in Arctic tundra environment and complement optical observations. View Full-Text
Keywords: arctic tundra fire; vegetation recovery; C- and L-band SAR; SAR backscatter arctic tundra fire; vegetation recovery; C- and L-band SAR; SAR backscatter
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MDPI and ACS Style

Zhou, Z.; Liu, L.; Jiang, L.; Feng, W.; Samsonov, S.V. Using Long-Term SAR Backscatter Data to Monitor Post-Fire Vegetation Recovery in Tundra Environment. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 2230.

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