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9 October 2018 Exploitation of SAR data to detect burned areas in the Sila mountain area (southern Italy)
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This study focuses on testing the SAR coherence changes from Sentinel-1 data to detect burned areas and to compare the results with optical Sentinel-2 derived burned area product to be used as validation. Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) data at 350 m resolution was used to identify active fires locations.

We focused on a sequence of wildfires that affected the Sila mountain area during the summer of the 2017. This area of the Calabria region (southern Italy) was interested by a range of fires for the second half of July and the whole month of August ([1], [2]) due also to an extremely dry and hot summer. We used a pair of optical images acquired from Sentinel- 2 satellites on 24 July 2017 (pre-events) and 23 August 2017 (post-events).

Firstly, we computed the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for both images and calculated the difference between these two (dNDVI) at 10m resolution; the results put in evidence several areas characterized by vegetation reduction, with dNDVI values up to 0.3-0.4. Concerning the SAR data, we evaluated the coherence changes by exploiting two pairs of Sentinel-1 SAR data over the same area. Both pairs were acquired along descending orbit, respectively before (on July, 19th and 31st) and after (on September, 5th and 17th) the fires occurred in the Sila mountain area. The coherence was computed separately for the first (γpre) and the second pair (γpost) and the difference γpost - γpre was calculated. In this way, we evaluated the difference in coherence between September, i.e. post-fires, and July, i.e. pre-fires expecting a higher coherence after burning, due to the vegetation reduction. In several areas, the coherence seems to be consistent with the fire events showing increments up to 0.20-0.25. However, the increasing of coherence difference could also be due to other reasons such as the soil moisture variations in the proximity of lakes/rivers or the seasonal cultivation changes.

Further analysis integrating more information such as the SAR amplitude signal and the cross-polarized backscattering coefficient will be conducted in order to better evaluate and discriminate any contributions.
Conference Presentation
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Vito Romaniello, Marco Polcari, Stefania Amici, Alessandro Piscini, Christian Bignami, and Salvatore Stramondo "Exploitation of SAR data to detect burned areas in the Sila mountain area (southern Italy)", Proc. SPIE 10788, Active and Passive Microwave Remote Sensing for Environmental Monitoring II, 107880H (9 October 2018);


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