In the framework of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS) Mapping Validation, the applicability of the MultiTemporal Coherence (MTC) technique using Sentinel-1 data and the software made available by the European Space Agency (ESA), the Sentinel Application Platform (SNAP), for the detection and delineation of burnt areas was tested. The main purpose of the study was to test a methodology that would benefit from the advantages of delineating burnt areas based on radar data with respect to optical data due to its capacity to acquire data both night and day and to avoid the interference of clouds and/or smoke. Moreover, the study aimed to acheive the delineation of the burnt areas using Sentinel-1 and SNAP in the frame of an emergency mapping where processing time is constrained due to the necessity of giving a quick response to the emergency. Four Sentinel-1 images were acquired over a mountainous area mainly covered by Mediterranean vegetation that suffered from massive forest fires in the summer of 2016. The burnt area delineation was obtained by an object-based image analysis (OBIA) of the resulting MTC image followed by a visual inspection. The effects of the polarization, the acquisition mode, and the incidence angle of the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery were studied in order to assess the contribution of these sensor varaibles on the results. Results of the Sentinel-1 based delineation were compared to those using optical imagery, which is traditionally used for this application. Therefore, the fire delineation that was derived was compared to that derived using three optical images: pre- and post-event Sentinel-2 images and a post-event SPOT 6 image. The first two were used to calculate the differences of the burnt area index (dBAI), used to derive the burnt area delineation by OBIA and photo interpretation with the help of the SPOT 6 image. Results of the comparison showed the feasibility of using the MTC technique for burnt area delineation, as high overall accuracy values were observed when compared to the burnt area delineation derived from optical imagery. The importance of the incidence angle of the Sentinel-1 images was assessed as well, with lower angles resulting in higher overall accuracies. In addition, the availability of double polarization of the Sentinel-1 images, allowed us to give recommendations regarding which polarization gave the best results. The potential for the use of SAR data, obtaining equivalent results to those obtained from optical imagery, is significant in an emergency context given that radar sensors acquire images continuosly and in all weather conditions.
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