A pragmatic assessment of the usefulness of the MODIS (Terra and Aqua) 1-km active fire (MOD14A2 and MYD14A2) products for mapping fires in the fynbos biome
The moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (MODIS) fire-affected area data are not currently available for download by the public; therefore, 1-km pixel MODIS active fire data (MOD14A2 and MYD14A2) were assessed as a potential source of fire history data for the fynbos biome. These data mapped between 60.1 and 65.7% of the area within fire boundaries mapped by reserve managers between July 2002 and April 2005. These results should not be taken as a negative reflection on the MODIS team, as active fires do not aim to map fire-affected area. Rather this exercise has helped identify specific limitations in the fynbos, which will provide insight into the fine-tuning of other MODIS fire products for use in the fynbos. Limitations are likely to be primarily due to sun-glint around coastlines; topographic shadows; highly reflective, light soils exposed after a fire; partial burning of pixels; patchy and irregular-shaped fires; and large pixel size. The MODIS active fire data are not sufficient for the purposes of developing a 4-year fire history of the fynbos. The publication of the 500-m MODIS fire-affected area data is eagerly anticipated as a solution.