Fire Ecology, 2013
Volume 9, Issue 1
Wetland Fire Scar Monitoring and Analysis Using Archival Landsat Data for the Everglades
Authors: John W. Jones, Annette E. Hall, Ann M. Foster, and Thomas J. Smith III
The ability to document the frequency, extent, and severity of fires in wetlands, as well as the dynamics of post-fire wetland land cover, informs fire and wetland science, resource management, and ecosystem protection. Available information on Everglades burn history has been based on field data collection methods that evolved through time and differ by land management unit. Our objectives were to (1) design and test broadly applicable and repeatable metrics of not only fire scar delineation but also post-fire land cover dynamics through exhaustive use of the Landsat satellite data archives, and then (2) explore how those metrics relate to various hydrologic and anthropogenic factors that may influence post-fire land cover dynamics. Visual interpretation of every Landsat scene collected over the study region during the study time frame produced a new, detailed database of burn scars greater than 1.6 ha in size in the Water Conservation Areas and post-fire land cover dynamics for Everglades National Park fires greater than 1.6 ha in area. Median burn areas were compared across several landscape units of the Greater Everglades and found to differ as a function of administrative unit and fire history. Some burned areas transitioned to open water, exhibiting water depths and dynamics that support transition mechanisms proposed in the literature. Classification tree techniques showed that time to green-up and return to pre-burn character were largely explained by fire management practices and hydrology. Broadly applicable as they use data from the global, nearly 30-year-old Landsat archive, these methods for documenting wetland burn extent and post-fire land cover change enable cost-effective collection of new data on wetland fire ecology and independent assessment of fire management practice effectiveness.