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Remote sensing based monitoring of biomass burning

A project has been initiated to develop remote sensing based methods for the monitoring of fires in the tropical belt. A multiscale approach (regional to global) was adopted and the development undertaken of tools and methods allowing a quantitative assessment of some effects of fire on the environment. Documenting and characterizing biomass burning patterns has been performed at 3 different scales: global, continental and regional. At global scale the project received a test version of the first international geosphere biosphere programme (IGBP) DIS global 1 km data set. A computing environment, suitable for handling these large data sets, has been created. At continental scale, fire distribution patterns over a 4 year period have been analysed, on a seasonal and interannual basis, as a function of vegetation cover and pluviometric conditions. Strong interannual variability in fire activity has been observed. It cannot be explained only by the monthly pluviometric patterns. It therefore seems to result from additional meteorological or anthropogenetic parameters. At regional scale, a field experiment performed in West Africa tested the possibilities of a mobile personal computer (PC) based high resolution picture transmission (HRPT) receiving station for fire related studies and management. The system provided in situ advanced very high resolution radiometer (AVHRR) imagery in real time: the time series thus collected were analysed for:
physical characterization of controlled experimental fires; validation of algorithms for fire detection;
characterization of diurnal cycle in fire activity for this part of Africa;
definition of regional patterns of fire distribution over Guinea, Ivory Coast and Ghana.

A methodological investigation has been initiated to study the parameterization of heterogeneity in the spatio temporal distribution of fires for the African continent.

The project has described and evaluated what would be the main components of an information system related to vegetation fires and their effects at continental scale and the computing environment required for its installation.

Reported by

Joint Research Centre, Ispra
21020 Ispra
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