New research paper examines satellite data to look at wildfire disturbance as well as post-fire recovery in Australia over a period of 40 years

Blog Post created by faithberry Employee on Mar 15, 2018

Wildfire image shared by LA City Fire Department of the La Tuna Fire

Satellites are providing new data opportunities for scientists to study wildfires. The paper, Using Landsat Spectral Indices in Time-Series to Assess Wildfire Disturbance and Recovery, examines Landsat data for the past 40 years.  The paper states that because of the new advancements that have been made in analyzing the data, it has enabled them to better study wildfire disturbances as well as how some forests are able to recover after a wildfire has occurred.


It was also interesting to note that the scientists who wrote this paper acknowledged in their introduction, that studying wildfire must be a multidisciplinary approach and that human activities and cultures are a part of the global dynamics of wildfire.


The study area was public forest areas in the eastern part of the state of Victoria which is located in the South East of Australia.  They studied the effects of wildfires in the area from 2003 to 2016, including the devastating ‘Black Saturday Fires’ in 2009.  They also incorporated data from fire maps generated by the state of Victoria’s land management agency. The study looked at such things as post fire forest regrowth, and forest diversity (texture).  One interesting part of their study was the conclusion that a certain data set from the satellite images gave the most accurate information about the length of time it takes for (wetness indices) to recover, and even longer time required for forests to regain their biodiversity (textural variation).


This type of data will be valuable to forest managers including private forest managers as they develop long range maintenance and management plans with wildfire in mind.