Identifying a suitable combination of classification technique and bandwidth(s) for burned area mapping in tallgrass prairie with MODIS imagery


Prescribed fire is crucial to the ecology and maintenance of tallgrass prairie, and its application affects a variety of human and natural systems. Consequently, maps showing the location and extent of these fires are critical to managing tallgrass prairies in a manner that balances the needs of all stakeholders. Satellite-based optical remote sensing can provide the necessary input for this mapping, but it requires the development mapping methods that are specific to tallgrass prairie. In this research, we devise and test a suitable mapping method by comparing the efficacy of seven combinations of bands and indices from the MODIS sensor using both pixel and object-based classification methods. Due to the relatively small size of many prescribed fires in tallgrass prairie, scenarios based on the 250 m spatial resolution red and NIR bands outperformed those based on the coarser 500 m spatial resolution bands, and a combination of both red and NIR performed better than each 250 m band individually. Object-based classification offered no improvement over the pixel-based classification, and performed poorer in some cases. Our results suggest that mapping burned areas in tallgrass prairie should be done at a minimum of 250 m spatial resolution, should used a pixel-based classification technique, and should use a combination of red and NIR.



Burned area mapping, MODIS, Object-based classification, Tallgrass prairie, Grasslands