Towards an integrated system for vegetation fire monitoring in the Amazon basin
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Biomass burning is a major environmental problem in Amazonia. Satellite fire detections represent the primary source of information for fire alert systems, decision makers, emissions modeling groups and the scientific community in general. Those various users create a growing demand for good quality fire data of higher spatial and temporal resolution that can only be achieved via integration of multiple satellite fire detection products. The main objective of this dissertation was to develop an integrated fire product capable of improved monitoring and characterization of fire activity in Brazilian Amazonia. Two major active fire detection algorithms based on MODIS and GOES data were used to meet the users demand for fire information. Large differences involving the performance of the MODIS and GOES fire products required the quantification of omission and commission errors in order to allow for appropriate treatment of individual detections produced by each data set. Relatively small omission errors due to cloud obscuration were estimated for Brazilian Amazonia. Regional climate conditions result in reduced cloud coverage in areas of high fire activity during the peak of the dry season, therefore minimizing the effects of cloud obscuration on fire detection omission errors. Clear sky omission and commission errors were largely dependent on the vegetation and background conditions. Relatively large commission errors occurring in high percentage tree cover areas suggested that fire detection algorithms must either be regionalized or incorporate additional tests to provide more consistent fire information across a broader range of surface conditions. Integration of MODIS and GOES fire products using a physical parameter describing fire energy (i.e., fire radiative power) was proven difficult due to limitations involving the interplay between sensor characteristics and the types of fires that occur in Amazonia. As part of this research, a new integrated product was generated based on binary fire detection information derived from MODIS and GOES data, incorporating adjustments to reduce commission and omission errors and optimizing the complementarities among individual detections. These findings made a significant contribution to fire monitoring science in Amazonia and could play an important role in the development of future fire detection algorithms for tropical regions.