Post-Wildfire Mapping using Uncrewed Aircraft Systems

Submitted by tadamson on

The Department of Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire (OWF), in partnership with the USGS, is conducting evaluations to determine best practices and methodology for data collection of post-fire events utilizing Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS). Previous efforts have successfully utilized UAS technology to estimate canopy characteristics, interpret fuel model types, and calculate fire behavior.

This project aims to extend previous research into more complex vegetation/fuel types and within a post-catastrophic fire component. Three sample areas exhibiting various levels of fire intensity and fuel types were chosen within the 2020 East Troublesome burn perimeter located near Granby, Colorado. This study collected centimeter-level UAS multispectral (10-band) and natural color (red/green/blue) imagery, processed using Structure-from-Motion (SfM) techniques. In addition to the imagery, centimeter-level lidar point clouds were acquired using UAS to estimate vegetation/fuels characteristics such as Canopy Cover, Canopy Height, Canopy Base Height, and Canopy Bulk Density.

The goal of the OWF and the USGS is to implement optimum data gathering and processing techniques in order to create best practices for applying UAS technology in the DOI fuels and BAER programs. This project explores mapping processes that could display contact zones between fire intensity and burn severity. Fire Science is fundamental to understanding the causes, consequences, and benefits of wildfire and helps prevent and manage major, catastrophic events.

Vegetation and fuels characteristics of the 2020 East Troublesome burn area derived from lidar data obtained with an Uncrewed Aircraft System (UAS).


Author Name
Mark Bauer; Matt Burgess; Victoria Scholl; Joe Adams; Craig Thompson
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