Fire in the pine forests of Moguer, Asperillo and Abalario (Doñana Natural Area)

Guyonne Janss and Javier Bustamante, Doñana Biological Station, CSIC, Seville (E)

On the night of last June 24, a dramatic fire broke out in the pine forests of Moguer (Huelva Province, Spain), spreading during all night and day of Sunday 25 with varying winds from West to Northwest to the interior of the Protected Area of Doñana.

On Sunday 25, EBD Remote Sensing & GIS Lab (LAST-EBD) downloaded the MODIS image (250 m resolution) from the TERRA satellite through the MODIS Rapid Response Service. Using a 7-5-1 band combination (false color using 2 bands in short wave infrared -SWIR- and a third in red) the zone affected by the fire at the time of capture (12:20 PM) can be very well appreciated , i.e. about 3000 ha. Smoke clouds are also visible north of active focus (orange pixels, a).

Also on Sunday the Landsat 7 satellite acquired an image. This well-known satellite continues to orbit our planet and still provides useful images despite its characteristic striped pattern of missing-data due to its sensor (ETM+) damaged since 2003. The 5-4-3 false color combination (Short wave infrared-Near infrared and -Red bands) also shows the affected area at the time of capture (about 12:00 PM) and clouds of smoke (b).

Finally, on Monday 26 the last MODIS image was downloaded from Terra satellite on which the almost definitive perimeter of the affected area can be determined. By that time the fire practically was considered controlled by the firefighting brigades helped by the improvement of meteorological conditions. On the morning of Tuesday 27 the fire has been declared to be under control by the Andalusian fire brigade “INFOCA” (c).

On this image the limits of the Natural Space of Doñana have been superimposed (including its last extension). The rough red line shows the almost definitive boundary of the area affected by the fire, providing a preliminary estimate of the surface burned of 9500 ha (please note: this is PRELIMINARY, by lack of ground truth data and official confirmation). The affected area forms part of Doñana Natural Park not reaching the National Park (central part of the delimited area). Both constitute the “Doñana Natural Space” within Doñana Biosphere Reserve. In black dots the location of the study plots of the LIFE Adaptamed (LIFE14 ES/CCA/000612) project have been incorporated in which the EBD-CSIC participates through its Monitoring Team on Natural Processes. Three of the nine study plots monitored in the area of “Abalario” since 2016 have presumably been burned (d).

The image of Sentinel 3 (300 m spatial resolution) on the same day confirms the extent of the affected area. A second estimate using a this image gives a burned area of 9673 ha (6308 within the Doñana Natural Park). From this moment on, LAST-EBD is prepared to elaborate detailed cartographies of the affected area using remote sensing images taken from satellites, airborne campaigns, or drones (UAS). The Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA) is planning an airborne remote sensing campaign to evaluate the damage to its facilities in “El Arenosillo”. We will coordinate with them to provide ground-truth measurements. It will also be essential to monitor the natural regeneration process and restoration activities in the affected area in the following years. The “Doñana storyline” of the H2020 EcoPotential project is centered in the marshes of the National Park, and has not been affected by the fire. Nevertheless the essence of EcoPotential project, i.e. “best use of existing and incoming Earth Observation and field monitoring data, complemented by appropriate interpretation tools, data services and ecosystem models able to use these data” is fully applicable to learn from this unfortunate event.

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