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Thermal-Drones as a Safe and Reliable Method for Detecting Subterranean Peat Fires

Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, Brownlow Hill, Liverpool L3 5RF, UK
School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, Byrom Street, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK
UPT CIMTROP, University of Palangka Raya, Jl. Yos Sudarso, Palangka Raya 73111, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia
Faculty of Science, Liverpool John Moores University, Byrom Street, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK
Borneo Nature Foundation, Jl. Bukit Raya No. 82, Palangka Raya 73112, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia
School of Geography, Geology and the Environment, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Drones 2019, 3(1), 23;
Received: 22 December 2018 / Revised: 20 February 2019 / Accepted: 21 February 2019 / Published: 27 February 2019
PDF [21335 KB, uploaded 4 March 2019]


Underground peat fires are a major hazard to health and livelihoods in Indonesia, and are a major contributor to carbon emissions globally. Being subterranean, these fires can be difficult to detect and track, especially during periods of thick haze and in areas with limited accessibility. Thermal infrared detectors mounted on drones present a potential solution to detecting and managing underground fires, as they allow large areas to be surveyed quickly from above and can detect the heat transferred to the surface above a fire. We present a pilot study in which we show that underground peat fires can indeed be detected in this way. We also show that a simple temperature thresholding algorithm can be used to automatically detect them. We investigate how different thermal cameras and drone flying strategies may be used to reliably detect underground fires and survey fire-prone areas. We conclude that thermal equipped drones are potentially a very powerful tool for surveying for fires and firefighting. However, more investigation is still needed into their use in real-life fire detection and firefighting scenarios. View Full-Text
Keywords: peat fires; remote sensing; thermal infrared; astro-ecology peat fires; remote sensing; thermal infrared; astro-ecology

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Burke, C.; Wich, S.; Kusin, K.; McAree, O.; Harrison, M.E.; Ripoll, B.; Ermiasi, Y.; Mulero-Pázmány, M.; Longmore, S. Thermal-Drones as a Safe and Reliable Method for Detecting Subterranean Peat Fires. Drones 2019, 3, 23.

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