Using our expertise in Earth Observation, we are exploring how readily available satellite data can assist in detecting, tracking and monitoring environmental issues.
For this blog, we have turned our attention to recent events in the Mediterranean, where the extreme hot weather has contributed to wildfires that have taken hold with increasing intensity and ferocity. Our colleague Michael O’Connor produced the following maps using data from ESA’s sentinel satellites.
Monitoring Wildfires on Rhodes Island
The recent wildfires in Rhodes and other islands have had a devastating effect, with vast areas of land engulfed in flames and the lives of tens of thousands of people impacted. Climate change has contributed to the growing scale and frequency of wildfires, bringing their devastating impacts ever closer to urban areas. On the island of Rhodes, the recent fires reached the towns of Lardos and Kiotari.
Using data captured from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel–2A satellite, the maps below illustrate the total extent of land affected by the wildfires on the island of Rhodes from the 23rd and 28th July. The maps were created using the Normalised Burn Ratio (NBR), which uses NIR and SWIR values (Bands 8a and 12) to identify land burnt by the fires and the severity of the resulting burn scar left behind. Areas on the map with an intense or darker colour correspond to higher burn severity.
The NBR allows for the mapping of areas below active wildfire smoke and lessons atmospheric effects. The World Settlement Footprint 2015 urban settlement mask illustrates urban areas on the island of Rhodes.
Imagery captured on 23rd July.
Imagery Captured on 28th July.
Imagery captured 28th July with Urban Settlement Areas highlighted.
What can we learn from this?
Monitoring wildfires using Earth Observation techniques and remote sensing offers several benefits, including early detection for rapid response and containment efforts, enhanced situational awareness through real–time data on fire behaviour, extent and intensity, and improved environmental management by assessing the impact on ecosystems, air quality and climate change.
Earth Observation’s ability to assist in tracking and monitoring wildfires, especially in more remote areas, is almost limitless. Even after the fires have been put out, satellite data provides a cheap and effective method to assess and observe the recovery of affected ecosystems.
Want to learn more?
For further information about the methods used in this study or to discuss your Earth Observation project requirements, contact us below.