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Open AccessArticle

Field-Validated Burn-Severity Mapping in North Patagonian Forests

1
Laboratorio de Dendrocronología e Historia Ambiental, IANIGLA–CONICET, Mendoza CC330-M5502IRA, Argentina
2
Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Mendoza M5502JMA, Argentina
3
Department of Geography, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(2), 214; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12020214
Received: 10 December 2019 / Revised: 27 December 2019 / Accepted: 6 January 2020 / Published: 8 January 2020
Burn severity, which can be reliably estimated by validated spectral indices, is a key element for understanding ecosystem dynamics and informing management strategies. However, in North Patagonian forests, where wildfires are a major disturbance agent, studies aimed at the field validation of spectral indices of burn severity are scarce. The aim of this work was to develop a field validated methodology for burn-severity mapping by studying two large fires that burned in the summer of 2013–2014 in forests of Araucaria araucana and other tree species. We explored the relation between widely used spectral indices and a field burn-severity index, and we evaluated index performance by examining index sensitivity in discriminating burn-severity classes in different vegetation types. For those indices that proved to be suitable, we adjusted the class thresholds and constructed confusion matrices to assess their accuracy. Burn severity maps of the studied fires were generated using the two most accurate methods and were compared to evaluate their level of agreement. Our results confirm that reliable burn severity estimates can be derived from spectral indices for these forests. Two severity indices, the delta normalized burn ratio (dNBR) and delta normalized difference vegetation index (dNDVI), were highly related to the fire-induced changes observed in the field, but the strength of these associations varied across the five different vegetation types defined by tree heights and tree and tall shrub species regeneration strategies. The thresholds proposed in this study for these indices generated classifications with global accuracies of 82% and Kappa indices of 70%. Both the dNBR and dNDVI classification approaches were more accurate in detecting high severity, but to a lesser degree for detecting low severity burns. Moderate severity was poorly classified, with producer and user errors reaching 50%. These constraints, along with detected differences in separability, need to be considered when interpreting burn severity maps generated using these methods. View Full-Text
Keywords: wildfire; Araucaria araucana; Landsat 8 OLI; normalized burn ratio; normalized difference vegetation index; char soil index; mid-infrared burned index; classification thresholds wildfire; Araucaria araucana; Landsat 8 OLI; normalized burn ratio; normalized difference vegetation index; char soil index; mid-infrared burned index; classification thresholds
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MDPI and ACS Style

Franco, M.G.; Mundo, I.A.; Veblen, T.T. Field-Validated Burn-Severity Mapping in North Patagonian Forests. Remote Sens. 2020, 12, 214.

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