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Volume 18, issue 1 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 125-144, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-18-125-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 10 Jan 2018

Research article | 10 Jan 2018

Satellite observations for describing fire patterns and climate-related fire drivers in the Brazilian savannas

Guilherme Augusto Verola Mataveli1, Maria Elisa Siqueira Silva1, Gabriel Pereira1,2, Francielle da Silva Cardozo2, Fernando Shinji Kawakubo1, Gabriel Bertani3, Julio Cezar Costa2, Raquel de Cássia Ramos2, and Viviane Valéria da Silva2 Guilherme Augusto Verola Mataveli et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, 05508-000, Brazil
  • 2Department of Geosciences, Federal University of São João del-Rei, São João del-Rei, 36307-352, Brazil
  • 3Remote Sensing Division, National Institute for Space Research, São José dos Campos,12227-010, Brazil

Abstract. In the Brazilian savannas (Cerrado biome) fires are natural and a tool for shifting land use; therefore, temporal and spatial patterns result from the interaction of climate, vegetation condition and human activities. Moreover, orbital sensors are the most effective approach to establish patterns in the biome. We aimed to characterize fire, precipitation and vegetation condition regimes and to establish spatial patterns of fire occurrence and their correlation with precipitation and vegetation condition in the Cerrado. The Cerrado was first and second biome for the occurrence of burned areas (BA) and hotspots, respectively. Occurrences are higher during the dry season and in the savanna land use. Hotspots and BA tend to decrease, and concentrate in the north, but more intense hotspots are not necessarily located where concentration is higher. Spatial analysis showed that averaged and summed values can hide patterns, such as for precipitation, which has the lowest average in August, but minimum precipitation in August was found in 7% of the Cerrado. Usually, there is a 2–3-month lag between minimum precipitation and maximum hotspots and BA, while minimum VCI and maximum hotspots and BA occur in the same month. Hotspots and BA are better correlated with VCI than precipitation, qualifying VCI as an indicator of the susceptibility of vegetation to ignition.

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Orbital remote sensing showed that the Cerrado was the second/first biome for the occurrence of hotspots and burned area (BA), which were higher in the dry season and in the savanna land use and are tending to decrease. Spatial analysis showed that values for the entire biome can hide patterns and that there is a 2- to 3-month lag between precipitation and hotspots/BA, while minimum VCI and maximum hotspots/BA occur in the same month. VCI indicates the susceptibility of vegetation to ignition.
Orbital remote sensing showed that the Cerrado was the second/first biome for the occurrence of...
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