Using SAR to Detect Moorland Fire Scars in the Peak District

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Severe fires can burn into the peat releasing CO2¬ into the atmosphere; fires can also destroy the moorland habitat and cause gully erosion all of which are of great concern to Moors for the Future (MFF) that manage the land at the Peak District National Park (PDNP). Monitoring the occurrence of moorland fire scars and fire scar recovery will help to manage the land more efficiently as precise fire scar records over time have not been kept for the PDNP. The overall aim of the project is to investigate whether Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) can be used to detect moorland fire scars and monitor the rate of vegetation recovery as has been achieved in other types of environments such as boreal (Bourgeau-Chavez et al, 1997) and the tropics (Huang and Siegert, 2004). SAR has been selected as it benefits from providing a greater temporal resolution of images compared to optical imagery as the sensors are not affected by cloud cover. Archival time-series SAR imagery has been supplied by the Landmap Service, originally sourced from the European Space Agency (ESA). This paper provides results of an initial pilot project to test the capability of ERS 2 and ASAR data to detect the 18th April 2003 Bleaklow fire scar which was mapped using a GPS by PDNP rangers just after the fire event. The methodology will involve pre-processing the C-band ASAR and ERS 2 data in SARscape 4.2 to produce geocoded greyscale images and multi-difference colour composites. The level of coherence will be assess between images with fire scars expected to exhibit a high level of coherence compared to the surrounding vegetation (Dahdal et al., 2009). Future research will assess other sensor variables such as radar frequency and polarisation and also the affects of scene variable e.g. soil moisture and fire intensity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010
Event2010 Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society Symposium - Cork, Eire
Duration: 31 Aug 20103 Sept 2010


Conference2010 Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society Symposium
CityCork, Eire


  • SAR
  • Fire scar
  • Coherence
  • ERS
  • ASAR
  • Radar remote sensing
  • moorland


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