Burnt Area Delineation from a uni-temporal perspective based on Landsat TM imagery classification using Support Vector Machines

George Petropoulos, Charalambos Kontoes, Iphigenia Keramitsoglou

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124 Citations (SciVal)


Information on burnt area is of critical importance in many applications as for example in assessing the disturbance of natural ecosystems due to a fire or in proving important information to policy makers on the land cover changes for establishing restoration policies of fire-affected regions. Such information is commonly obtained through remote sensing image thematic classification and a wide range of classifiers have been suggested for this purpose. The objective of the present study has been to investigate the use of Support Vector Machines (SVMs) classifier combined with multispectral Landsat TM image for obtaining burnt area mapping. As a case study a typical Mediterranean landscape in Greece was used, in which occurred one of the most devastating fires during the summer of 2007. Accuracy assessment was based on the classification overall statistical accuracy results and also on comparisons of the derived burnt area estimates versus validated estimates from the Risk-EOS Burnt Scar Mapping service. Results from the implementation of the SVM using diverse kernel functions showed an average overall classification accuracy of 95.87% and a mean kappa coefficient of 0.948, with the burnt area class always clearly separable from all the other classes used in the classification scheme. Total burnt area estimate computed from the SVM was also in close agreement with that from Risk-EOS (mean difference of less than 1%). Analysis also indicated that, at least for the studied here fire, the inclusion of the two middle infrared spectral bands TM5 and TM7 of TM sensor as well as the selection of the kernel function in SVM implementation have a negligible effect in both the overall classification performance and in the delineation of total burnt area. Overall, results exemplified the appropriateness of the spatial and spectral resolution of the Landsat TM imagery combined with the SVM in obtaining rapid and cost-effective post-fire analysis. This is of considerable scientific and practical value, given the present open access to the archived and new observations from this satellite radiometer globally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-80
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


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