Detection and mapping of burnt areas from time series of MODIS-derived NDVI data in a Mediterranean region

Miguel A. García, José A. Alloza, Ángeles G. Mayor, Susana Bautista, Francisco Rodríguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Moderate resolution remote sensing data, as provided by MODIS, can be used to detect and map active or past wildfires from daily records of suitable combinations of reflectance bands. The objective of the present work was to develop and test simple algorithms and variations for automatic or semiautomatic detection of burnt areas from time series data of MODIS biweekly vegetation indices for a Mediterranean region. MODIS-derived NDVI 250m time series data for the Valencia region, East Spain, were subjected to a two-step process for the detection of candidate burnt areas, and the results compared with available fire event records from the Valencia Regional Government. For each pixel and date in the data series, a model was fitted to both the previous and posterior time series data. Combining drops between two consecutive points and 1-year average drops, we used discrepancies or jumps between the pre and post models to identify seed pixels, and then delimitated fire scars for each potential wildfire using an extension algorithm from the seed pixels. The resulting maps of the detected burnt areas showed a very good agreement with the perimeters registered in the database of fire records used as reference. Overall accuracies and indices of agreement were very high, and omission and commission errors were similar or lower than in previous studies that used automatic or semiautomatic fire scar detection based on remote sensing. This supports the effectiveness of the method for detecting and mapping burnt areas in the Mediterranean region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-120
JournalCentral European Journal of Geosciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Burnt area mapping
  • Mediterranean Basin
  • Remote sensing
  • Wildfire


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