Long-Term Satellite Detection of Post-Fire Vegetation Trends in Boreal Forests of China

Kunpeng Yi; Hiroshi Tani; Jiquan Zhang; Meng Guo; Xiufeng Wang; Guosheng Zhong
December 2013
Remote Sensing;Dec2013, Vol. 5 Issue 12, p6938
Academic Journal
This paper describes the long-term effects on vegetation following the catastrophic fire in 1987 on the northern Great Xing'an Mountain by analyzing the AVHRR GIMMS 15-day composite normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) dataset. Both temporal and spatial characteristics were analyzed for natural regeneration and tree planting scenarios from 1984 to 2006. Regressing post-fire NDVI values on the pre-fire values helped identify the NDVI for burnt pixels in vegetation stands. Stand differences in fire damage were classified into five levels: Very High (VH), High (H), Moderate (M), Low (L) and Slight (S). Furthermore, intra-annual and inter-annual post-fire vegetation recovery trajectories were analyzed by deriving a time series of NDVI and relative regrowth index (RRI) values for the entire burned area. Finally, spatial pattern and trend analyses were conducted using the pixel-based post-fire annual stands regrowth index (SRI) with a nonparametric Mann-Kendall (MK) statistics method. The results show that October was a better period compared to other months for distinguishing the post- and pre-fire vegetation conditions using the NDVI signals in boreal forests of China because colored leaves on grasses and shrubs fall down, while the leaves on healthy trees remain green in October. The MK statistics method is robustly capable of detecting vegetation trends in a relatively long time series. Because tree planting primarily occurred in the severely burned area (approximately equal to the Medium, High and Very High fire damage areas) following the Daxing'anling fire in 1987, the severely burned area exhibited a better recovery trend than the lightly burned regions. Reasonable tree planting can substantially quicken the recovery and shorten the restoration time of the target species. More detailed satellite analyses and field data will be required in the future for a more convincing validation of the results.


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