We made some updates to our map of wildfire burned areas in Sakha Republic (Siberia) that we published in November. We mapped an area of 92.62 million hectares at 40 meter resolution. For our study area we chose a region around the city of Yakutsk where many wildfires burned in the 2021 season. In fact, we found that an area of over 7.3 million hectares was burned. That’s 7.9% of the total. Combining the power of machine learning with our team’s expert knowledge in forestry, we’ve come up with a new and improved map.

The new dataset features a number of small tweaks, most aimed at improving detection of areas burned in September. These are sometimes tricky to distinguish due to fallen leaves and low sun angles in autumn.

What insights does our map provide?

Our map reports burned area extent at unprecedented detail, at a scale of 40 meters. In addition, for each fire cluster we report its area in hectares as well as the first and last dates a burning fire was detected somewhere in the cluster. To see this information, just click on any fire cluster on the map.

You can request the data shown in this map from us and integrate it into your own GIS analysis. One interesting use case we can think of is to estimate the amount of CO2 released by the wildfires. That is an analysis we are also happy to provide to interested customers.

How good is this map?

We achieved a precision of 98% and a recall of 88%. That means if you pick any point inside our fire polygons, the probability that it was actually burned is 98%. Conversely, of the points labeled as burned in the validation data, 88% were inside our burned polygons. To come up with these accuracy figures, we hand-labeled 4000 validation points based on the Sentinel-2 images we used for the classification. Our automatic processing pipeline then checked if these labels matched the burned area polygons. The combination of high precision and comparatively low recall means that our burned area estimates are conservative – the total burned area is likely higher than reported above.

The map is provided at a spatial resolution of 40 meters. That is, the boundary of each map polygon is no more than 40 meters away from the burned area perimeter on the ground.

What about burned area maps for other regions?

Early next year we plan to release a map of areas burned in Central Canada in 2021 as well as a map of the bushfires currently raging in Western Australia. This will give us an opportunity to find out how applicable our approach is to different landscapes and what tweaks might be needed.

Are you interested in wildfires in a particular area of the world? Then send us an e-mail with your request. We can provide burned area mapping of an area up to 10 million hectares free of charge so you can judge the quality of our work. If you’re happy with the results, we would be excited to set up a nation-wide burned area mapping service for you at a competitive price.

Note that the map below may take up to a minute to load.