Factors influencing the pattern of fire severities in a large wildfire under extreme meteorological conditions in the Mediterranean basin

Imma Oliveras, Marc Gracia, Gerard Moŕ, Javier Retana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In Mediterranean ecosystems, large fires frequently burn under extreme meteorological conditions, but they are usually characterized by a spatial heterogeneity of burn severities. The way in which such mixed-severity fires are a result of fuels, topography and weather remains poorly understood. We computed fire severity of a large wildfire that occurred in Catalonia, Spain, as the difference between the post- and pre-fire Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values obtained through Landsat images. Fuel and topographic variables were derived from remote sensing, and fire behavior variables were obtained from an exhaustive reconstruction of the fire. Results showed that fire severity had a negative relationship with percentage of canopy cover, i.e. green surviving plots were mainly those with more forested conditions. Of the topographic variables, only aspect had a significant effect on fire severity, with higher values in southern than in northern slopes. Fire severity was higher in head than in flank and back fires. The interaction of these two variables was significant, with differences between southern and northern aspects being small for head fires, but increasing in flank and back fires. The role of these variables in determining the pattern of fire severities is of primary importance for interpreting the current landscapes and for establishing effective fire prevention and extinction policies. © IAWF 2009.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-764
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Volume18
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2009

Keywords

  • Fire behavior
  • Fuel
  • NDVI
  • Topography
  • Vegetation structure

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