USDA Forest Service

Geospatial Technology And Applications Center

How is BARC data generated?

BARC data is made by comparing satellite near and mid infrared reflectance values. The logic behind the process is as follows:

INSERT CHART OF ELECTROMAGENETIC SPECTRUM HERE

Near infrared light is largely reflected by healthy green vegetation. That means that near infrared bands will be very high in areas of healthy green vegetation and low in areas where there is little vegetation.

Mid infrared light is largely reflected by rock and bare soil. That means that mid infrared band values will be very high in bare, rocky areas with little vegetation and low in areas of healthy green vegetation.

Imagery collected over a forest in a pre-fire condition will have very high near infrared band values and very low mid infrared band values. Imagery collected over a forest after a fire will have very low near infrared band values and very high mid infrared band values.

For more information see Spectral Reflectivity Overview PDF

It is the relationship between these two bands that the BARC attempts to exploit. The best way to do this is to measure the relationship between these bands prior to the fire and then again post fire. The areas where the relationship between the two bands has changed the most are most likely to be severely burned. The areas where that relationship has changed little are likely to be unburned or very lightly burned. To determine this relationship, analysts perform a band ratio between the mid and near infrared bands. The result is a classification of burned areas.

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