Burned area mapping using multi-temporal sentinel-2 data by applying the relative differenced aerosol-free vegetation index (RdAFRI)

Manuel Salvoldi, Gil Siaki, Michael Sprintsin, Arnon Karnieli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Assessing the development of wildfire scars during a period of consecutive active fires and smoke overcast is a challenge. The study was conducted during nine months when Israel experienced massive pyro-terrorism attacks of more than 1100 fires from the Gaza Strip. The current project strives at developing and using an advanced Earth observation approach for accurate post-fire spatial and temporal assessment shortly after the event ends while eliminating the influence of biomass burning smoke on the ground signal. For fulfilling this goal, the Aerosol-Free Vegetation Index (AFRI), which has a meaningful advantage in penetrating an opaque atmosphere influenced by biomass burning smoke, was used. On top of it, under clear sky conditions, the AFRI closely resembles the widely used Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), and it retains the same level of index values under smoke. The relative differenced AFRI (RdAFRI) set of algorithms was implemented at the same procedure commonly used with the Relative differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (RdBRN). The algorithm was applied to 24 Sentinel-2 Level-2A images throughout the study period. While validating with ground observations, the RdAFRI-based algorithms produced an overall accuracy of 90%. Furthermore, the RdAFRI maps were smoother than the equivalent RdNBR, with noise levels two orders of magnitude lower than the latter. Consequently, applying the RdAFRI, it is possible to distinguish among four severity categories. However, due to different cloud cover on the two consecutive dates, an automatic determination of a threshold level was not possible. Therefore, two threshold levels were considered through visual inspection and manually assigned to each imaging date. The novel procedure enables calculating the spatio-temporal dynamics of the fire scars along with the statistics of the burned vegetation species within the study area.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2753
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number17
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • AFRI
  • Burn severity
  • Change detection
  • Multi-temporal
  • Normalized burn ratio
  • RdAFRI
  • RdNBR
  • Sentinel-2
  • Wildfire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (all)


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