Monitoring the Impact of Wildfires on Tree Species with Deep Learning (Papers Track)

Wang Zhou (IBM Research); Levente Klein (IBM Research)

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One of the impacts of climate change is the difficulty of tree regrowth after wildfires over areas that traditionally were covered by certain tree species. Here a deep learning model is customized to classify land covers from four-band aerial imagery before and after wildfires to study the prolonged consequences of wildfires on tree species. The tree species labels are generated from manually delineated maps for five land cover classes: Conifer, Hardwood, Shrub, ReforestedTree, and Barren land. With an accuracy of 92% on the test split, the model is applied to three wildfires on data from 2009 to 2018. The model accurately delineates areas damaged by wildfires, changes in tree species, and regrowth in burned areas. The result shows clear evidence of wildfires impacting the local ecosystem and the outlined approach can help monitor reforested areas, observe changes in forest composition, and track wildfire impact on tree species.

Recorded Talk (direct link)