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Changes to the Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity program mapping production procedures and data products

Author(s): Joshua J. Picotte, Krishna Bhattarai, Danny Howard, Jennifer Lecker, Justin Epting, Brad Quayle, Nathan C. Benson, Kurtis J. Nelson
Year Published: 2020

Background: The Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity (MTBS) program has been providing the fire science community with large fire perimeter and burn severity data for the past 14 years. As of October 2019, 22 969 fires have been mapped by the MTBS program and are available on the MTBS website (https://www.mtbs.gov(link is external)). These data have been widely used by researchers to examine a variety of fire and climate science topics. However, MTBS has undergone significant changes to its fire mapping methodology, the remotely sensed imagery used to map fires, and the subsequent fire occurrence, burned boundary, and severity databases. To gather a better understanding of these changes and the potential impacts that they may have on the user community, we examined the changes to the MTBS burn mapping protocols and whether remapped burned area boundary and severity products differ significantly from the original MTBS products.

Results: As MTBS data have been used over the course of many years and for many disparate applications, users should be aware that the MTBS burned area and severity products have been actively reviewed and revised to benefit from more robust satellite image availability and to address any observed quality issues. In a sample of 123 remapped fires, we found no significant change in the burned area boundary products when compared to the original mapped fires; however, significant changes did exist in the distribution of unburned, low, and moderate burn severity pixels within the thematic product.

Conclusions: Analysis of these remapped fires provides a look into how the MTBS fire mapping methods have evolved over time. In the future, additional changes to the MTBS data record may impact data users’ downstream applications. The MTBS program has an established continuous improvement approach to the MTBS methodology and products, and subsequently encourages users to confirm that they are using the most recent data.

Citation: Picotte, Joshua J.; Bhattarai, Krishna; Howard, Danny; Lecker, Jennifer; Epting, Justin; Quayle, Brad; Benson, Nate C.; Nelson, Kurtis J. 2020. Changes to the Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity program mapping production procedures and data products. Fire Ecology 16:16.
Topic(s): Fire Regime, Fire Intensity / Burn Severity, Mapping, Fuels, Fuels Inventory & Monitoring
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 21407
FRAMES RCS number: 61476
Record updated: Jul 7, 2020