12. What type of landscape fire maps exist?

Mapping the timing and the extent of landscape fires is important as fire is a prominent change agent affecting natural ecosystems, the cycling of carbon and nutrients and is a globally-significant cause of greenhouse gas emission. Data from weather satellites and Earth observation satellites can be combined to produce daily maps. These enable fire managers and firefighters to concentrate on the areas at highest risk.
The maps are either produced internally in public authorities’ offices, research institutions, and publicly accessible on the internet.

  • Mapping can be defined as active when near real-time detection and characterization of landscape fire conditions are provided.
  • Other type of vegetation mapping is the burned area maps, where detailed and current information concerning the location and extent of the burned areas and the level of fire damage is important to assess economic losses and ecological effects, to monitor land use and land cover changes, and to model the atmospheric and climatic impacts of biomass burning.
  • Fire behavior maps are also used for potential fire behavior characteristics (spread rate, flame length, fireline intensity, etc.) over an entire landscape in order to help with firefighting.
  • Furthermore, maps are used to image the areas that are burning and pick out major hot spots within the burnt area. They can also detect greenhouse gases, smoke plumes produced by the fires and for monitoring the post fire effects (soil erosion, flood potential and regeneration process).
Fuel type map which depicts the spatial distribution of various fuel (vegetation) types across the landscape. Source: Mallinis et al. (2016).
Fire behavior map which shows the expected fire rate of spread in a specific area under predefined weather conditions. Source: Mitsopoulos et al. (2017).