Mount Kenya is one of Kenya’s ‘water towers’, the headwaters for the country’s major rivers including the Tana River and Ewaso Nyiro River, which provide water and hydroelectric power to the semiarid region. Fires affect water downstream, but are difficult to monitor given limited resources of local land management agencies. Satellite-based remote sensing has the potential to provide long term coverage of large remote areas on Mount Kenya, especially using the free Landsat data archive and moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) fire products. In this study, we mapped burn scars on Mount Kenya using 30 m Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) and Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) derived dNBR (change in normalized burn ratio) and MODIS active fire detection and burned area data for fires occurring from 2004 to 2015. We also analyzed topographic position (elevation, slope, aspect) of these fires using an ASTER global digital elevation model (GDEM v2) satellite-derived 30 m digital elevation model (DEM). Results indicate that dNBR images calculated from data acquired about one year apart were able to identify large fires on Mount Kenya that match locations (and timing) of MODIS active fire points and burned areas from the same time period, but we were unable to detect smaller and/or older fires.
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