Indonesia: Daily Forest Fire Observation from Space in East Kalimantan (IFFN No. 19- September 1998)

(IFFN No. 19 – September 1998,p. 20-22)

The Integrated Forest Fire Management Project (IFFM / GTZ Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit) in Samarinda East Kalimantan provides several information on fire and fire occurrences in Kalimantan. Since April 1996, IFFM has received images from NOAA 12 and 14 satellites (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) four times daily. The NOAA satellites view a broad swath of the earth from a height of about 860 km and have a picture element resolution of 1×1 km2 (pixel size). The satellites have onboard the AVHRR (Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer) sensor, a five channel scanning radiometer with different spectral characteristics (visible, near infrared, mid infrared and far infrared).

The display and the quantitative analysis of satellite imagery of the AVHRR is provided by Sea Scan STARS (Satellite Analysis and Research System) software. The AVHRR data is provided by the HRPT (High Resolution Picture Transmission) Reception System provided by Sea Scan and built up by Dundee Satellite Systems. The further geographical processing is done with the Geographic Analysis and Display System (GADS) and ArcView (3.0a).

Originally, the AVHRR sensor has been designed for meteorological and oceanographic applications therefore special algorithm have been developed for the fire detection. The most suitable channels for the fire detection are the first two ‘thermal’ infrared channels, channel 3 and 4. The fire detection process is based on surface temperature measurements by channel 3. A pixel is detected as a fire pixel or as a hotspot when channel 3 is saturated by a specific temperature much below that of burning vegetation (Malingreau 1990, Kaufmann et al. 1990a, 1990b, Kennedy et al. 1994). Therefore to avoid false alarm detection because of high temperature background (soil), highly reflective clouds or sun reflection from water the satellite processing uses special algorithm. The IFFM receiving station uses several day-time and night-time tests. In particular, it uses the Multiple Threshold Algorithm after Arino & Mellinotte (1995).

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Fig .1. Example of a NOAA AVHRR scene with fire spots (upper right corner) which is posted on the daily updated project website ( or (main map). The total number of fires detected on 31 March 1998 was 1956.

During the escalating fire season of 1998 (January to mid-May) in East Kalimantan IFFM delivered the daily hotspots data by facsimile and official letter to several government institutions. These include institutions such as Directorate General for Forest Protection and Natural Conservation, Director of Forest Protection, Governor of East Kalimantan, Control of Environmental Impact Bureau of East Kalimantan, Control of Environmental Impact Bureau Center, Forest Service for East Kalimantan, Department of Forestry East Kalimantan, Military Command East Kalimantan, Department of Plantation East Kalimantan, Department of Agriculture East Kalimantan, Department of Settlement East Kalimantan, Regional Development Planning Bureau East Kalimantan and Regional Military Command. Some government institutions used the hotspots data to monitor the forest fires and to undertake the fire suppression actions. Some analyzed the hotspots locations to warn the concession companies on burning areas. Some made plans for fund allocation for future rehabilitation programs.

In order to respond to outside inquiries especially from concession companies, the IFFM Project made a web sites to provide fire and background information as well the digital values of the hotpot coordinates in mid-February. The website ( or provides the following information i.e. the project’s activities, fire prevention activities, current fire situation report for East-Kalimantan, a haze guide or the Fire Danger Rating system based on weather data. The website provides several links to related web sites that puts out information on the current El Niño situation and other related fire information.

The IFFM web site provided the NOAA / AVHRR hotspot data as plotted maps and as digital coordinates in degrees, minutes and seconds and decimal degrees. The hotspot maps also showed information on cloud and thick haze coverage. As far as possible, the hotspot data had been daily updated.

Many other institutions as well as concession companies could take the hotspots daily data directly from the IFFM’s web site to monitor concession and large holding areas.



Arino, O., and J.M.Melinotte. 1995. Fire index atlas. Earth Observation Quarterly, ESA, 50, 11-16.

Wannamaker, B. 1996. Sea Scan STARS User Manual. Sea Scan Oceanographic and Remote Sensing Consultants, Canada (unpubl.).

Malingreau, J.-P. 1990. The contribution of remote sensing to the global monitoring of fires in tropical and subtropical ecosystems. In: Fire in the tropical biota (J.G.Goldammer, ed.), 337-370. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Kaufmann, Y.J., A.Setzer, C.Justice, C.J.Tucker, M.C. Pereira, and I.Fung. 1990a. Remote sensing of biomass burning in the tropics. In: Fire in the tropical biota (J.G.Goldammer, ed.), 371-399. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Kaufmann, Y., C.J.Tucker, and I.Fung 1990b. Remote sensing of biomass burning in the tropics. J. Geophys. Res. 95, 9927-9939.

Kennedy, P.J., A.S.Belward, and J.-M.Grégoire. 1994. An improved approach to fire monitoring in West Africa using AVHRR data. Int. J. Remote Sensing 15, 2235-255.

Anja Hoffmann and Lenny Christy

Integrated Forest Fire Management Project (IFFM)
Jl. Kesuma Bangsa Kotak Pos 1202/826
Samarinda 75001
Kalimantan Timur

Fax: ++62-541-33519
Tel: ++62-541-32625

IFFN No. 19
Country Notes
Projects and Programmes

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