DOI: 10.3390/fire7020051 ISSN: 2571-6255

The Spatially Adaptable Filter for Error Reduction (SAFER) Process: Remote Sensing-Based LANDFIRE Disturbance Mapping Updates

Sanath Sathyachandran Kumar, Brian Tolk, Ray Dittmeier, Joshua J. Picotte, Inga La Puma, Birgit Peterson, Timothy D. Hatten
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Safety Research
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Building and Construction
  • Forestry

LANDFIRE (LF) has been producing periodic spatially explicit vegetation change maps (i.e., LF disturbance products) across the entire United States since 1999 at a 30 m spatial resolution. These disturbance products include data products produced by various fire programs, field-mapped vegetation and fuel treatment activity (i.e., events) submissions from various agencies, and disturbances detected by the U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS)-based Remote Sensing of Landscape Change (RSLC) process. The RSLC process applies a bi-temporal change detection algorithm to Landsat satellite-based seasonal composites to generate the interim disturbances that are subsequently reviewed by analysts to reduce omission and commission errors before ingestion them into LF’s disturbance products. The latency of the disturbance product is contingent on timely data availability and analyst review. This work describes the development and integration of the Spatially Adaptable Filter for Error Reduction (SAFER) process and other error and latency reduction improvements to the RSLC process. SAFER is a random forest-based supervised classifier and uses predictor variables that are derived from multiple years of pre- and post-disturbance Landsat band observations. Predictor variables include reflectance, indices, and spatial contextual information. Spatial contextual information that is unique to each contiguous disturbance region is parameterized as Z scores using differential observations of the disturbed regions with its undisturbed neighbors. The SAFER process was prototyped for inclusion in the RSLC process over five regions within the conterminous United States (CONUS) and regional model performance, evaluated using 2016 data. Results show that the inclusion of the SAFER process increased the accuracies of the interim disturbance detections and thus has potential to reduce the time needed for analyst review. LF does not track the time taken by each analyst for each tile, and hence, the relative effort saved was parameterized as the percentage of 30 m pixels that are correctly classified in the SAFER outputs to the total number of pixels that are incorrectly classified in the interim disturbance and are presented. The SAFER prototype outputs showed that the relative analyst’s effort saved could be over 95%. The regional model performance evaluation showed that SAFER’s performance depended on the nature of disturbances and availability of cloud-free images relative to the time of disturbances. The accuracy estimates for CONUS were inferred by comparing the 2017 SAFER outputs to the 2017 analyst-reviewed data. As expected, the SAFER outputs had higher accuracies compared to the interim disturbances, and CONUS-wide relative effort saved was over 92%. The regional variation in the accuracies and effort saved are discussed in relation to the vegetation and disturbance type in each region. SAFER is now operationally integrated into the RSLC process, and LANDFIRE is well poised for annual updates, contingent on the availability of data.

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