Remote Sensing of Wildfire Using a Small Unmanned Aerial System: Post-Fire Mapping, Vegetation Recovery and Damage Analysis in Grand Bay, Mississippi/Alabama, USA

Environmental Monitoring
This article is provided by MDPI journal, under in the Drones category.

Abstract: Wildfires can be beneficial for native vegetation. However, wildfires can impact property values, human safety, and ecosystem function. Resource managers require safe, easy to use, timely, and cost-effective methods for quantifying wildfire damage and regeneration. In this work, we demonstrate an approach using an unmanned aerial system (UAS) equipped with a MicaSense RedEdge multispectral sensor to classify and estimate wildfire damage in a coastal marsh. We collected approximately 7.2 km2 of five-band multispectral imagery after a wildfire event in February 2016, which was used to create a photogrammetry-based digital surface model (DSM) and orthomosaic for object-based classification analysis. Airborne light detection and ranging data were used to validate the accuracy of the DSM. Four-band airborne imagery from pre- and post-fire were used to estimate pre-fire health, post-fire damage, and track the vegetation recovery process. Immediate and long-term post-fire classifications, area, and volume of burned regions were produced to track the revegetation progress. The UAS-based classification produced from normalized difference vegetation index and DSM was compared to the Landsat-based Burned Area Reflectance Classification. Experimental results show the potential of using UAS and the presented approach compared to satellite-based mapping in terms of classification accuracies, turnaround time, and spatial and temporal resolutions.

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Authors: Samiappan, and Hathcock, Lee and Turnage, Lee and McCraine, and Pitchford, Jonathan and Moorhead, Robert

Associations: Geosystems Research Institute, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA; 2 Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Moss Point, MS 39562, USA;

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