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9 October 2007 Retrieval of canopy moisture content for dynamic fire risk assessment using simulated MODIS bands
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Forest fires are one of the major environmental hazards in Mediterranean Europe. Biomass burning reduces carbon fixation in terrestrial vegetation, while soil erosion increases in burned areas. For these reasons, more sophisticated prevention tools are needed by local authorities to forecast fire danger, allowing a sound allocation of intervention resources. Various factors contribute to the quantification of fire hazard, and among them vegetation moisture is the one that dictates vegetation susceptibility to fire ignition and propagation. Many authors have demonstrated the role of remote sensing in the assessment of vegetation equivalent water thickness (EWT), which is defined as the weight of liquid water per unit of leaf surface. However, fire models rely on the fuel moisture content (FMC) as a measure of vegetation moisture. FMC is defined as the ratio of the weight of the liquid water in a leaf over the weight of dry matter, and its retrieval from remote sensing measurements might be problematic, since it is calculated from two biophysical properties that independently affect vegetation reflectance spectrum. The aim of this research is to evaluate the potential of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) in retrieving both EWT and FMC from top of the canopy reflectance. The PROSPECT radiative transfer code was used to simulate leaf reflectance and transmittance as a function of leaf properties, and the SAILH model was adopted to simulate the top of the canopy reflectance. A number of moisture spectral indexes have been calculated, based on MODIS bands, and their performance in predicting EWT and FMC has been evaluated. Results showed that traditional moisture spectral indexes can accurately predict EWT but not FMC. However, it has been found that it is possible to take advantage of the multiple MODIS short-wave infrared (SWIR) channels to improve the retrieval accuracy of FMC (r2 = 0.73). The effects of canopy structural properties on MODIS estimates of FMC have been evaluated, and it has been found that the limiting factor is leaf area index (LAI). The best results are recorded for LAI>2 (r2 = 0.83), while acceptable results (r2 = 0.58) can still be achieved for lower vegetation cover density.
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Carmine Maffei, Antonio P. Leone, Giuseppe Meoli, Gaetano Calabrò, and Massimo Menenti "Retrieval of canopy moisture content for dynamic fire risk assessment using simulated MODIS bands", Proc. SPIE 6742, Remote Sensing for Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Hydrology IX, 674205 (9 October 2007);

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