Introduction

Fire is a prevalent disturbance on the global landscape with several hundred million hectares of vegetation burning everyyear. Land and forest fires (collectively referred to as wildland fires) occur annually on every continent except Antarctica, and most global fire is unmonitored and undocumented (Figure 20.1). Increasing trends in wildland fire activity have been reported in many global regions. Wildland fires have many serious negative impacts on human safety, health, regional economies and global climate change. Developed countries spend billions every year in an attempt to limit the impact of wildland fires. In contrast, developing countries spend little, if any, money to control fire, yet they are often the most susceptible to the damaging impacts of fire because of increased vulnerability of human life and property (due to limited fire suppression capability), increased risk due to high fire frequency (often caused by the cultural use of fire), and sensitive economies (tourism, transport).

To mitigate these fire-related problems, forest and land management agencies, as well as land owners and communities, require an early warning system to identify critical time periods of extreme fire danger in advance of their occurrence. Early warning of these conditions with high spatial and temporal resolution incorporating

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