Examining the effects of forest fire on terrestrial carbon emission and ecosystem production in India using remote sensing approaches

Srikanta Sannigrahi*, Francesco Pilla, Bidroha Basu, Arunima Sarkar Basu, Konika Sarkar, Suman Chakraborti, Pawan Kumar Joshi, Qi Zhang, Ying Wang, Sandeep Bhatt, Anand Bhatt, Shouvik Jha, Saskia Keesstra, P.S. Roy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Remote sensing techniques are effectively used for measuring the overall loss of terrestrial ecosystem productivity and biodiversity due to forest fires. The current research focuses on assessing the impacts of forest fires on terrestrial ecosystem productivity in India during 2003–2017. Spatiotemporal changes of satellite remote sensing derived burn indices were estimated for both fire and normal years to analyze the association between forest fires and ecosystem productivity. Two Light Use Efficiency (LUE) models were used to quantify the terrestrial Net Primary Productivity (NPP) of the forest ecosystem using the open-source and freely available remotely sensed data. A novel approach (delta NPP/delta burn indices) is developed to quantify the effects of forest fires on terrestrial carbon emission and ecosystem production. During 2003–2017, the forest fire intensity was found to be very high (>2000) across the eastern Himalayan hilly region, which is mostly covered by dense forest and thereby highly susceptible to wildfires. Scattered patches of intense forest fires were also detected in the lower Himalayan and central Indian states. The spatial correlation between the burn indices and NPP were mainly negative (−0.01 to −0.89) for the fire-prone states as compared to the other neighbouring regions. Additionally, the linear approximation between the burn indices and NPP showed a positive relation (0.01 to 0.63), suggesting a moderate to high impact of the forest fires on the ecosystem production and terrestrial carbon emission. The present approach has the potential to quantify the loss of ecosystem productivity due to forest fires.

Original languageEnglish
Article number138331
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2020


  • Burn indices
  • Carbon emission
  • Forest fire
  • Greenhouse gas emission
  • Net primary productivity
  • Remote sensing


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