Ground vegetation biomass detection for fire prediction from remote sensing data in the lowveld region

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dc.contributor.author Goslar, Anthony
dc.date.accessioned 2007-02-26T13:38:19Z
dc.date.available 2007-02-26T13:38:19Z
dc.date.issued 2007-02-26T13:38:19Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10539/2139
dc.description Student Number : 0310612G - MSc research report - School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies - Faculty of Science en
dc.description.abstract Wildfire prediction and management is an issue of safety and security for many rural communities in South Africa. Wildfire prediction and early warning systems can assist in saving lives, infrastructure and valuable resources in these communities. Timely and accurate data are required for accurate wildfire prediction on both weather conditions and the availability of fuels (vegetation) for wildfires. Wildfires take place in large remote areas in which land use practices and alterations to land cover cannot easily be modelled. Remote sensing offers the opportunity to monitor the extent and changes of land use practices and land cover in these areas. In order for effective fire prediction and management, data on the quantity and state of fuels is required. Traditional methods for detecting vegetation rely on the chlorophyll content and moisture of vegetation for vegetation mapping techniques. Fuels that burn in wildfires are however predominantly dry, and by implication are low in chlorophyll and moisture contents. As a result, these fuels cannot be detected using traditional indices. Other model based methods for determining above ground vegetation biomass using satellite data have been devised. These however require ancillary data, which are unavailable in many rural areas in South Africa. A method is therefore required for the detection and quantification of dry fuels that pose a fire risk. ASTER and MAS (MODIS Airborne Simulator) imagery were obtained for a study area within the Lowveld region of the Limpopo Province, South Africa. Two of the ASTER and two of the MAS images were dated towards the end of the dry season (winter) when the quantity of fuel (dry vegetation) is at its highest. The remaining ASTER image was obtained during the middle of the wet season (summer), against which the results could be tested. In situ measurements of above ground biomass were obtained from a large number of collection points within the image footprints. Normalised Difference Vegetation Index and Transformed Vegetation Index vegetation indices were calculated and tested against the above ground biomass for the dry and wet season images. Spectral response signatures of dry vegetation were evaluated to select wavelengths, which may be effective at detecting dry vegetation as opposed to green vegetation. Ratios were calculated using the respective bandwidths of the ASTER and MAS sensors and tested against above ground biomass to detect dry vegetation. The findings of this study are that it is not feasible, using ASTER and MAS remote sensing data, to estimate brown and green vegetation biomass for wildfire prediction purposes using the datasets and research methodology applied in this study. Correlations between traditional vegetation indices and above ground biomass were weak. Visual trends were noted, however no conclusive evidence could be established from this relationship. The dry vegetation ratios indicated a weak correlation between the values. The removal of background noise, in particular soil reflectance, may result in more effective detection of dry vegetation. Time series analysis of the green vegetation indices might prove a more effective predictor of biomass fuel loads. The issues preventing the frequent and quick transmission of the large data sets required are being solved with the improvements in internet connectivity to many remote areas and will probably be a more viable path to solving this problem in the near future. en
dc.format.extent 3656102 bytes
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject fire prediction en
dc.subject ground vegetation biomass en
dc.subject remote sensing en
dc.subject lowveld en
dc.subject vegetation indices en
dc.title Ground vegetation biomass detection for fire prediction from remote sensing data in the lowveld region en
dc.type Thesis en


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