• Technical Report

Technical Report 10 All-Weather Near Real-Time Monitoring of Bushfire with Satellite SAR

T. Bai; Z. Sheng; Z. Du; Dr L. Ge.


This executive summary overviews the project’s objectives, progress, and challenges in developing a fully automated satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) tool for bushfire detection and monitoring. The project agreement emphasizes the need for robust results, comprehensive case studies, and integration with existing operational systems.

The first objective is to develop a fully automated SAR-based bushfire detection and monitoring tool, which includes automatic satellite data acquisition, DInSAR processing, and burned area (BA) automatic detection. The project has made significant progress by automating and refining the pipeline using Sentinel-1A satellite. The developed pipeline delivers dependable outcomes round-the-clock through the utilization of SAR imagery, which has the ability to penetrate through clouds and smoke. This exceptional feature enables us to continuously monitor bushfire activity, thereby expediting quick and effective decision-making and response. However, challenges for detection accuracy arise due to variable topography, vegetation, and environmental conditions, and then consequently lead to mis-interpretation.

Ensuring a consistent capture cadence with standardized imagery geometry parameters is crucial for improving the tool’s performance. The second objective entails conducting comprehensive case studies on bushfires during Australia’s 2021-22 and 2022-23 fire seasons. The case studies, primarily focused on New South Wales (NSW), have integrated project activities with input and feedback from the NSW Rural Fire Services (RFS). The conducted studies illustrate how the project’s work is pertinent to the operations of the NSW RFS. They also highlight the importance of utilizing multiple sources of imageries, including SAR and visible spectrum imageries, for processing techniques validation and fine-tuning, e.g. Sentinel-2, Himawari-8, and Landsat

The third objective centres around understanding end-user use cases and exploring potential pathways for integrating the tool’s outputs with existing operational systems. Through workshops and feedback sessions, the project has documented the requirements and expectations of end users, particularly the people from NSW RFS, who emphasize the need for near real-time responses to fires. The project outcomes represent a robust step towards meeting these objectives, but the current imagery capture frequency does not yet provide the necessary data for real-time operations.

The report highlights that while the project has made significant progress, additional time and potential technological advancements are needed to ensure a consistent supply of high-quality imagery. Improvements in imagery capture frequency and advances in processing techniques will be vital in achieving the project’s primary and secondary objectives.

Overall, the project’s objectives and progress demonstrate the importance of developing a fully automated SAR-based bushfire detection and monitoring tool. With continued research and development efforts, including addressing the challenges associated with image capture and interpretation, the project aims to provide a valuable solution that can significantly enhance bushfire management capabilities.

Read full Publication