Detection and Monitoring of Fire

Space borne remote sensing technologies have improved the capability to identify fire activities at local, regional and global scales by using visible and infrared sensors on existing platforms for detecting temperature anomalies, active fires, and smoke plumes. Geosynchronous satellites such as GOES and polar orbiting sensors such as the NOAA AVHRR have been used successfully to establish calendars of vegetation state (fire hazard) and fire activities. Other satellites with longer temporal sampling intervals, but with higher resolution, such as Landsat and SPOT, and space borne radar sensors, deliver accurate maps of active fires, vegetation state and areas affected by fire. Fire scar (burned area) inventories for emission estimates are difficult to conduct, especially in the region of the Maritime Continent in which cloud cover inhibits ground visibility of many sensors. Radar sensors such as SAR offer good potential application in fire scar characterisation. ASEAN scientists (candidate institutions: ASEAN Specialized Meteorological Centre (ASMC) and the Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) should consider appropriate research.

Table 4. Different sensors and possible potential applications to study forest fires

Sensors :

Potential Applications

Video Images :

Fire characterisation, burnt area estimation, fire propagation, estimate of fire density and burnt scars


Exact location of forest fires, extent of fires and types of land cover of fires, impact of human activities on incidence of forest fire


Land cover characterisation and forest non forest mapping


Fire characterisation, land cover characterisation and monitoring


Characterisation, land cover characterisation, seasonal variations in land cover, inter annual variation in land cover, land cover change and burnt area estimation


Burnt area estimation

The fire episode of 1997 in Indonesia has clearly demonstrated that the "hot spot" information generated by the NOAA AVHRR is of limited value. New sensors are currently developed which are specifically aimed to satisfy the demands of the fire science and management community, e.g., the BIRD satellite project of the Deutsche Forschungsanstaltfur Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) (with a two-channel infrared sensor system in combination with a wide-angle optoelectronic stereo scanner) and the envisaged fire sensor component FOCIS on the International Space Station (Briess et al., 1997; DLR 1997). Indonesia's Ministry for Research and Technology (BPPT) is interested to collaborate with the DLR in testing and validating the BIRD satellite.

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