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Evaluation of ALOS PALSAR Imagery for Burned Area Mapping in Greece Using Object-Based Classification

DOI: 10.3390/rs5115680

Keywords: fire severity, Mediterranean landscape, multi-temporal SAR

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Abstract:

In this work, the potential of Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR) imagery to map burned areas was evaluated in two study areas in Greece. For this purpose, we developed an object-based classification scheme to map the fire-disturbed areas using the PALSAR imagery acquired before and shortly after fire events. The advantage of employing an object-based approach was not only the use of the temporal variation of the backscatter coefficient, but also the incorporation in the classification of topological features, such as neighbor objects, and class related features, such as objects classified as burned. The classification scheme resulted in mapping the burned areas with satisfactory results: 0.71 and 0.82 probabilities of detection for the two study areas. Our investigation revealed that the pre-fire vegetation conditions and fire severity should be taken in consideration when mapping burned areas using PALSAR in Mediterranean regions. Overall, findings suggest that the developed scheme could be applied for rapid burned area assessment, especially to areas where cloud cover and fire smoke inhibit accurate mapping of burned areas when optical data are used.

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