The Italian island of Sardinia often suffers wildfires in the summer, whether due to natural phenomena or to human-induced ones, for instance by shepherds trying to control certain grazing lands. Young researchers of Sardegna Clima - an organisation working for climate and wildfire monitoring since 2009 - are making a difference with the help of Copernicus Sentinel-2 data.
Launched in 2009, Sardegna Clima APS is an independent, non-profit, professional association supporting and promoting excellence in operational meteorology, weather forecasting, climatology and related activities.
As part of their mission, they autonomously installed and control a network of more than 130 weather stations spread across the Sardinian island, able to monitor the main meteorological parameters in real-time.
They are partners of a consortium in a project called S2IGI (Sistema Satellitare Integrato Gestione Incendi), managed by Nurjana Technologies. The project is founded by Sardegna Research, as part of the POR FESR Sardegna 2014-2020 framework.
The objective of the Project is to develop an integrated system based on Earth Observation data, in-situ measurements and forecast modelling, to provide decision-makers with a tool able to tackle the main phases of Forest Fires management:
- The prevention;
- The real-time detection and monitoring;
- The post-event damage evaluation.
In this framework, Sardegna Clima provides either the real-time weather data for triggering the generation of Fire Risk maps and the modelling of the fire fronts, or post event maps elaborated directly from Copernicus Sentinel-2 products.
Data from the Sentinel-2 mission of the European Union’s Copernicus Programme, are indeed extremely useful to delineate with high precision the areas affected by fires, but also to provide valuable information on the health status of the vegetation for extracting fire risk indexes and ultimately to understand how vegetation reacts in time after fires, thanks to the Near Infrared spectral bands of the MSI sensor.
Within S2IGI Copernicus Sentinel-2 data were successfully used to tailor the so-called "Daily Fire Hazard Index" DFHI (Laneve et al. 2020 https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12152356), in which multiple information (primarily EO and weather data) are combined for extracting a daily fire index properly tuned for the Sardinian territory.
In addition, post-event images taken by Sentinel-2 are exploited during the validation of the real-time fire-front simulation for understanding the fire behavior (Arca at al 2018, https://doi.org/10.1071/WF18078). This kind of information is essential for the Forest Corps and Fire Brigades during the intervention phase.
Dario Secci, researcher at Sardegna Clima APS, asserts, “Sentinel-2 data have demonstrated to provide really a fundamental added value for the forest fires management in the Mediterranean areas, which, due to global warming, are more and more sensitive to such a problem.”
The Copernicus Sentinels are a fleet of dedicated EU-owned satellites, designed to deliver the wealth of data and imagery that are central to the European Union's Copernicus environmental programme. The European Commission leads and coordinates this programme, to improve the management of the environment, safeguarding lives every day.
ESA is in charge of the space component, responsible for developing the family of Copernicus Sentinel satellites on behalf of the European Union and ensuring the flow of data for the Copernicus services, while the operations of the Copernicus Sentinels have been entrusted to ESA and EUMETSAT.
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The Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS) provides all operators involved in the management of natural hazards, disasters, man-made emergency situations, and humanitarian crises with timely and accurate geo-spatial information derived from satellite remote sensing and completed by available in situ or open data sources.