ASSESSMENT OF FIRE SEVERITY AND POST-FIRE REGENERATION BASED ON TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES USING MULTITEMPORAL LANDSAT IMAGERY: A CASE STUDY in MERSIN, TURKEY
Keywords: dNBR, Fire Severity, Landsat ETM+, NDVI, SAVI, Vegetation Regeneration, Wildfire
Abstract. Satellite based remote sensing technologies and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) present operable and cost-effective solutions for mapping fires and observing post-fire regeneration. Mersin-Gülnar wildfire, which occurred in August 2008 in Turkey, selected as study site. The fire was devastating and continued 55 days. According to Turkish General Directorate of Forestry reports, it caused two deaths and left hundreds of people homeless. The aim of this study is to determine the fire severity and monitor vegetation recovery with using multitemporal spectral indices together with topographical factors. Pre-fire and post-fire Landsat ETM+ images were obtained to assess the related fire severity with using the widely-used differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (dNBR) algorithm. Also, the Normalized Vegetation Index (NDVI) and Soil Adjusted Vegetation Index (SAVI) were used to determine vegetation regeneration dynamics for a period of six consecutive years. In addition, aspect image derived from Aster Global Digital Elevation Model (GDEM) were used to determine vegetation regeneration regime of the study area. Results showed that 5388 ha of area burned with moderate to high severity damage. As expected, NDVI and SAVI values distinctly declined post-fire and then began to increase in the coming years. Mean NDVI value of burned area changed from 0.48 to 0.17 due to wildfire, whilst mean SAVI value changed from 0.61 to 0.26. Re-growth rates calculated for NDVI and SAVI 57% and 63% respectively, six years after the fire. Moreover, NDVI and SAVI were estimated six consecutive year period by taking into consideration east, south, north and west facing slopes. Analysis showed that north-facing and east-facing slopes have higher regeneration rates in compared to other aspects. This study serves as a window to an understanding of the process of fire severity and vegetation regeneration that is vital in wildfire management systems.