Over the past decades, Europe has suffered a large number of forest fires that has caused enormous losses in terms of human life and environmental damage. In 1997 the European Joint Research Centre set up a research group to work specifically on the development and implementation of advanced methods for the evaluation of forest fire risk and for the estimation of burnt areas and fire damages in Europe. The result of this work, performed in close collaboration with the Directorate-General for the Environment, was the development and establishment of the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS). Since the year 2000, the forest fire situation in Europe is constantly monitored by EFFIS.
Overview of EFFIS: the map of fire danger forecast for August 17th 2011.
EFFIS tackles forest fires in Europe in a comprehensive way, providing real-time assessments from pre-fire to post-fire phases, thus supporting fire prevention, preparedness, fighting and post-fire evaluations. Currently, the countries involved in the EFFIS network are: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Montenegro, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey, United Kingdom.
EFFIS services are provided through a web based platform - http://effis.jrc.ec.europa.eu - and include fire danger forecasts, active fire detection, burnt area mapping, land cover damage assessment, appraisal of Natura2000 sites affected, forest fire emissions, and potential soil erosion. The data on forest fire events derived by EFFIS and those periodically provided by the national fire services constitute the so-called European Fire Database.
The fire danger forecast module of EFFIS generates daily maps of 1 to 6 days projected fire danger level throughout Europe using weather forecast data. Fire danger provides information on the potential fire ignition and spread into five classes (very low, low, moderate, high, and very high) with a spatial resolution of 36 km.
Active fires are detected on the basis of remotely sensed imagery from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor, on board of the Terra and Aqua satellites of e National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The difference in temperature between the areas that are actively burning with respect to neighbouring areas allows the identification and mapping of active fires through the use of contextual fire detection algorithms.
In the damage assessment module of EFFIS, burned areas are mapped throughout the fire season on the basis of MODIS data. Perimeters of burnt areas are updated twice a day, providing a near-real time estimate of burnt areas in Europe. These maps are used in conjunction with the CORINE Land Cover database to estimate the damage to forests and other land cover types. The methodology provides a harmonised assessment of fire damage, which permits the comparison of fire damage between the different regions of Europe.
The perimeters of the burnt areas are used in combination with other ancillary data layers to obtain information on emissions from forest fires and potential soil loss within the burnt areas. A new module for the estimation of the socio-economic damage has also been developed. This provides estimates of economic losses caused by forest fires in Europe.
Large forest fires mapped by EFFIS in 2011 (Kerkira Island Greece, and coastal area in Albania)
The European Fire Database contains forest fire information provided by EU Member States and neighbour European countries. Data on individual fire events recorded by the national fire services are provided every year to EFFIS where they are checked, stored and managed in a harmonized way. The database contains records of up to 30 years for some of the European Mediterranean countries.
A special EFFIS Decision Support System was developed in 2007 to help the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) of the EC Civil Protection in the coordination of forest fire fighting efforts in the EU Member States. This module provides information on the evolution of critical fires in Europe, including the forecasted fire danger, the evolution of burnt areas, and the potential damages to population and critical infrastructure in the vicinity of these fires.
- European Commission, 2011, Forest Fires in Europe 2010, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, EUR 24910 EN, ISBN 978-92-79-20919-2, 92 p.
- San-Miguel-Ayanz, J., Schulte, E., Schmuck, G., Camia, A., Strobl, P., Liberta, G., Giovando, C., Boca, R., Sedano, F., Kempeneers, P., McInerney, D., Withmore, C., Santos de Oliveira, S., Rodrigues, M., Durrant, T., Corti, P., Oehler, F., Vilar, L., Amatulli, G., (2011). Comprehensive monitoring of wildfires in Europe: The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), in Tiefenbacher, J. (Ed.) “Disaster Management”, ISBN 978-953-307-651-5, in press.
- San-Miguel-Ayanz, J., Schulte, E., Schmuck, G., Camia, A. (2011). The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) in the context of environmental policies of the European Union, Forest Policy and Economics, in press.
- Camia, A., Amatulli, G. (2010). Climatology of FWI over Europe: fire danger anomalies and index percentile rankings. In: Viegas D.X. (Ed.) Proceedings of the VI International Conference on Forest Fire Research, ADAI/CEIF, Coimbra.
- San-Miguel-Ayanz, J., Camia, A. (2010). The European Forest Fire Information System: concept, status and development. In: Viegas D.X. (Ed.) Proceedings of the VI International Conference on Forest Fire Research, ADAI/CEIF, Coimbra.
- Barbosa Ferreira P, Camia A, Kucera J, Liberta` G, Palumbo I, San-Miguel-Ayanz J, Schmuck G. (2009). Assessment of Forest Fires Impact and Emissions in the European Union Based on the European Forest Fire Information System. In: Bytnerowicz A, Arbaugh M, Riebau A, Andersen C, editors. Wildland Fires and Air Pollution. Amsterdam (The Netherlands): Elsevier; p. 197-208. JRC49086.
- Camia A, Amatulli G. (2009). Weather Factors and Fire Danger in the Mediterranean. In: Chuvieco E, editor. Earth Observation of Wildland Fires in Mediterranean Ecosystems. Berlin: Springer-Verlag; p. 71-82. JRC55075
- San-Miguel-Ayanz, J., Pereira, J. M. C., Boca, R., Strobl, P., Kucera, J. and A. Pekkarinen, (2009). Forest Fires in the European Mediterranean Region: Mapping and Analysis of Burned Areas, in Chuvieco E.(Ed.), Earth Observation of Wildland Fires in Mediterranean Ecosystems, Berlin: Springer-Verlag pp. 189-204.
Jesus San-Miguel-Ayanz - Tel.: +39-0332-786138 E-mail: jesus.san-miguel(at)jrc.ec.europa.eu