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Remote sensing applications for prescribed burn research

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Prescribed burning is a key management strategy within fire-adapted systems, and improved monitoring approaches are needed to evaluate its effectiveness in achieving social-ecological outcomes. Remote sensing provides opportunities to analyse the impacts of prescribed burning, yet a comprehensive understanding of the applications of remote sensing for prescribed burn research is lacking. We conduct a literature review of 120 peer-reviewed publications to synthesise the research aims, methodologies, limitations and future directions of remote sensing for the analysis of prescribed fire. Studies evaluating management outcomes found prescribed burning effective for wildfire risk reduction, yet few analysed co-benefits or trade-offs with other management goals. Most studies use passive, spaceborne, low spatial resolution sensors, characterised in the literature as consistent and accessible data sources but limited in detecting small, low-severity and short-duration fires characteristic of prescribed burns. In contrast, active remote sensing approaches including LiDAR are less frequently employed, but show promise for highly accurate, spatially explicit 3D vegetation and fuel load mapping. Remote sensing advances toward higher spatial resolution, more frequent revisit, denser spectral sampling and more data across the electromagnetic spectrum are critical to advancing prescribed fire research, addressing current methodological gaps, and improving fuels and fire management capacity.

Anna LoPresti, Meghan T. Hayden, Katherine Siegel, Benjamin Poulter, E. Natasha Stavros and Laura E. Dee

LoPresti Anna, Hayden Meghan T., Siegel Katherine, Poulter Benjamin, Stavros E. Natasha, Dee Laura E. (2024) Remote sensing applications for prescribed burn research. International Journal of Wildland Fire 33, WF23130.

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