As well as being famous for its game reserve, the Kruger National Park in South Africa has the longest runs a large-scale fire experiment, the largest of its kind in the world. Four times a year plots of land, each about seven hectares, are burned to understand how fires behave under different conditions and how they affect the ecology. Fire is an integral part of the African savannah so understanding how its effects is important for management plans.
Plot 9 of the Kambeni Experimental Burn Plot String in Kruger National Park. (ESA)
Since external scientists are invited to use this unique opportunity for research, a team from the UK, South Africa and ESA took advantage of the fires recently to help validate fire data products from the Copernicus Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-3 missions.
For example, Copernicus Sentinel-3’s instrument package includes the Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer which has two dedicated infrared channels optimised for active fire detection and fire radiative power measurement.
Pre-fire briefing. (ESA)
During the fires the team deployed UAV’s to map the plot characteristics pre- and post-fire, and to capture samples of smoke during the burn to convert fuel consumption estimates into smoke emissions.
Small mapping drone ...