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Universität Würzburg (2010)

Mapping Bushfire Distribution and Burn Severity in West Africa Using Remote Sensing Observations

RUETH, geb. YAO Noellie Ahou

Titre : Mapping Bushfire Distribution and Burn Severity in West Africa Using Remote Sensing Observations

Auteur : RUETH, geb. YAO Noellie Ahou

Université de soutenance : Universität Würzburg

Grade : DoktorGrade 2010

Résumé
Fire has long been considered to be the main ecological factor explaining the origin and maintenance of West African savannas. It has a very high occurrence in these savannas due to high human pressure caused by strong demographic growth and, concomitantly, is used to transform natural savannas into farmland and is also used as a provider of energy. This study was carried out with the support of the BIOTA project funded by the German ministry for Research and Education. The objective of this study is to establish the spatial and temporal distribution of bushfires during a long observation period from 2000 to 2009 as well as to assess fire impact on vegetation through mapping of the burn severity ; based on remote sensing and field data collections. Remote sensing was used for this study because of the advantages that it offers in collecting data for long time periods and on different scales. In this case, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite instrument at 1km resolution is used to assess active fires, and understand the seasonality of fire, its occurrence and its frequency within the vegetation types on a regional scale. Landsat ETM+ imagery at 30 m and field data collections were used to define the characteristics of burn severity related to the biomass loss on a local scale. At a regional scale, the occurrence of fires and rainfall per month correlated very well (R2 = 0.951, r = -0.878, P < 0.01), which shows that the lower the amount of rainfall, the higher the fire occurrence and vice versa. In the dry season, four fire seasons were determined on a regional scale, namely very early fires, which announce the beginning of the fires, early and late fires making up the peak of fire in December/January and very late fires showing the end of the fire season and the beginning of the rainy season. Considerable fire activity was shown to take place in the vegetation zones between the Forest and the Sahel areas. Within these zones, parts of the Sudano-Guinean and the Guinean zones showed a high pixel frequency, i.e. fires occurred in the same place in many years. This high pixel frequency was also found in most protected areas in these zones. As to the kinds of land cover affected by fire, the highest fire occurrence is observed within the Deciduous woodlands and Deciduous shrublands. Concerning the burn severity, which was observed at a local scale, field data correlated closely with the ΔNBR derived from Landsat scenes of Pendjari National Park (R2 = 0.76). The correlation coefficient according to Pearson is r = 0.84 and according to Spearman-Rho, the correlation coefficient is r = 0.86. Very low and low burn severity (with ΔNBR value from 0 to 0.40) affected the vegetation weakly (0-35 percent of biomass loss) whereas moderate and high burn severity greatly affected the vegetation, leading to up to 100 percent of biomass loss, with the ΔNBR value ranging from 0.41 to 0.99. It can be seen from these results that remotely sensed images offer a tool to determine the fire distribution over large regions in savannas and that the Normalised Burn Ratio index can be applied to West Africa savannas. The outcomes of this thesis will hopefully contribute to understanding and, eventually, improving fire regimes in West Africa and their response to climate change and changes in vegetation diversity.show moreshow less

Mots clés : remote sensing , fire ecology , fire mapping , national parks , vegetation

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Page publiée le 10 décembre 2012, mise à jour le 5 janvier 2019