Remote Mapping of Fire Severity in Tropical Savannas of northern Australia

Currently we can only assume that the severity with which fires affect the vegetation is correlated to seasonality and indeed a set of permanent plots in 3 of our major National Parks in the “Top End” of northern Australia do support this with only 3% of fires occurring in the early dry season being in the most severe category compared with 30% of fires in the late dry season.

Usually remote sensing scientists acquire satellite imagery and attempt to determine the fire severity pertaining to that image or set of images. My study will work from the ground up. To do this requires considerable ground measurement both characterising the on-ground severity with which the fire has affected the vegetation and the spectral reflectance of that affected area.

The ground and spectral data will then be used in a Radiative Transfer Model to determine those parts of the electromagnetic spectrum appropriate in categorising fire severity. An algorithm can then be developed to automate the process of mapping fire severity.