A System for Burned Area Detection on Multispectral Imagery

The current remote sensing (RS) open data policy for multispectral (MS) missions such as Sentinel-2 and Landsat-8, together with the availability of free cloud distributed processing platforms such as Google Earth Engine, makes it possible the quick generation of burned area (BA) products even for nonexperts in the field. Indeed, fires and BAs can be detected using burn severity indices, which are usually obtained by simple band algebra operations. However, simple approaches can aid BA estimation only if typical error patterns are known and accounted for, especially when working at large (e.g., continental) scales. This article proposes an automatic BA detection system based on burn severity index thresholding, which integrates dedicated false and missed alarm mitigation strategies to improve the detection accuracy. The system is tested on Sentinel-2 and Landsat-8 data over ten different locations in Europe and spanning year 2018. Three known burn severity indices plus a custom one defined to improve the performance in the considered study area are under study. Results show that burned index thresholding is possible within accuracy bounds slightly larger than the state of the art, which is acceptable by considering the proposed simplified processing framework.
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