Fire events in the European Forest Fire Information System (version 2-3-1)

Collection: CEMS-EFFIS : Copernicus Emergency Management System - European Forest Fire Information System 


This dataset series refers to the information on burnt areas and fire severity provided by the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS). ▷_How to cite: see below_◁  

1 - Burnt areas. The burnt area mapping is a service implemented since 2000 that detects and analyzes the evolution of the fire events during the fire seasons and since 2007 during the whole year. A burnt area monitored in the EFFIS system is an area damaged by a wildfire event; in the system only areas that are about 30 hectares or larger are detected. Fires occurred only on agricultural areas are not mapped. A wildfire event can start either from an agricultural area or from a wildland area. Irrespective of the ignition point, to be considered in EFFIS a fire event must damage a wildland area. This means that the fire was either generated in the natural areas by spontaneous or anthropogenic sources, or sparked in agricultural fields and went out of control up to damage wildland. The mapping provided by EFFIS is on a day-by-day basis, and integrates multiple sources: the fire news, the MODIS and VIIRS satellite thermal anomalies, the near real-time (NRT) fire monitoring based on them, and the MODIS Terra and Aqua images. The NRT Fire Monitoring is useful to obtain an early approximation of the last state of large fires with a short time-lag. A subsequent integrated analysis generates consolidated best estimates of the burnt area. Each day, a semi-automatic procedure takes as input the satellite images and runs an automated classification. The burn scars automatically detected with the thermal anomalies, along with the fire news geolocations, serve as auxiliary data for the final visual check through a computer assisted photointerpretation by a GIS analysts / expert photointerpreter who verifies the reliability of the candidate areas. Once confirmed, the final polygons of the burnt area product contains multiple information fields: affected area in hectares; spatial location (country, province, and municipality); and temporal window (start and end dates of the fires, and date of the last update of the events).

2 - Fire severity.

Fire severity is the degree to which a fire altered the burnt area. It is assessed by EFFIS using the Normalized Burn Ratio (NBR) index (also sensitive to chlorophyll, water content, vegetation, ash), computed for pre-fire and post-fire satellite images. The “differenced NBR” (dNBR) represents the difference between NBR values before and after the event. The estimated “differenced NBR” is remapped into five categories of severity (very low, low, moderate, high, and very high).

__How to cite__ - When using these data, please cite the relevant data sources. A suggested citation is included in the following:       

- San-Miguel-Ayanz, J., Houston Durrant, T., Boca, R., Libertà, G., Branco, A., de Rigo, D., Ferrari, D., Maianti, P., Artés Vivancos, T., Schulte, E., Loffler, P., Benchikha, A., Abbas, M., Humer, F., Konstantinov, V., Pešut, I., Petkoviček, S., Papageorgiou, K., Toumasis, I., Kütt, V., Kõiv, K., Ruuska, R., Anastasov, T., Timovska, M., Michaut, P., Joannelle, P., Lachmann, M., Pavlidou, K., Debreceni, P., Nagy, D., Nugent, C., Di Fonzo, M., Leisavnieks, E., Jaunķiķis, Z., Mitri, G., Repšienė, S., Assali, F., Mharzi Alaoui, H., Botnen, D., Piwnicki, J., Szczygieł, R., Janeira, M., Borges, A., Sbirnea, R., Mara, S., Eritsov, A., Longauerová, V., Jakša, J., Enriquez, E., Lopez, A., Sandahl, L., Reinhard, M., Conedera, M., Pezzatti, B., Dursun, K. T., Baltaci, U., Moffat, A., 2017. Forest fires in Europe, Middle East and North Africa 2016. Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg. ISBN:978-92-79-71292-0,       

- San-Miguel-Ayanz, J., Schulte, E., Schmuck, G., Camia, A., 2013. The European Forest Fire Information System in the context of environmental policies of the European Union. Forest Policy and Economics 29, 19-25.      

- San-Miguel-Ayanz, J., Schulte, E., Schmuck, G., Camia, A., Strobl, P., Libertà, G., Giovando, C., Boca, R., Sedano, F., Kempeneers, P., McInerney, D., Withmore, C., de Oliveira, S. S., Rodrigues, M., Houston Durrant, T., Corti, P., Oehler, F., Vilar, L., Amatulli, G., 2012. Comprehensive monitoring of wildfires in Europe: the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS). In: Tiefenbacher, J. (Ed.), Approaches to Managing Disaster - Assessing Hazards, Emergencies and Disaster Impacts. InTech, Ch. 5.      


jrc-effis (at)


How to cite (2018): Fire events in the European Forest Fire Information System (version 2-3-1). European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC) [Dataset] PID:


European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) Copernicus Emergency Management Service Modelled family of quantities: Fire events Copernicus

Data access

[Download] Data Download Service
  • Data download service for thematic typologies of data related to wildfires in Europe (including fire events, burnt area and severity; fire danger; active fires).

[VIEW] [WMS] EFFIS View Service
  • EFFIS view service for thematic typologies of data related to wildfires in Europe (including fire events, burnt area and severity; fire danger; active fires).

Spatial coverage

Type Value
<gml:Envelope srsName=""><gml:lowerCorner>-20.00 25.00</gml:lowerCorner><gml:upperCorner>45.00 72.00</gml:upperCorner></gml:Envelope>
POLYGON((-20 72,45 72,45 25,-20 25,-20 72))

Temporal coverage

From date To date
2007-01-01 N/A

Lineage information

Fire events information is based on remote sensing input data. Burnt area and fire severity are estimated with different methods. 1 - Burnt areas: fire monitoring in EFFIS integrates different methodologies, from near real-time (NRT) to final best estimates of burnt area. The NRT fire monitoring is based on the detection of active fires (areas of high density of thermal anomalies, using both VIIRS and MODIS information). This product is useful to automatically detect fire events and provide a NRT coarse mapping of the affected area. The NRT Fire Monitoring is based only on the temporal evolution of the detection and the density of new thermal anomalies, providing approximated estimations of affected areas as soon as possible, and without human supervision. Users should be aware of the intrinsic limitations of these automatic NRT estiamtes: for example, two small fires could be identified as a single fire, or a fast-spreading large fire could be detected as two or more smaller fires. Thermal anomalies in urban areas are not considered. NRT information is then consolidated with detailed and human-supervised analysis. The core information of this integrated burnt area mapping are the MODIS Terra and Aqua GeoTIFF images. While the reference system of the final product is EPGS 4326, the data-processing reference system is EPGS 3035 – ETRS89 Lambert Azimuthal Equal-Area projection. This working projection preserves a constant area for all the pixels of the burnt areas over the whole spatial extent. The first step for the mapping consists in preprocessing: the tile subdivision and the application of the geometric and atmospheric correction. Through an automatic procedure, a Maximum Value Composite (MVC) is aggregated based on the most recent 7 days of MODIS reflectance data, using the maximum NDVI value. The derived composite allows cloud cover effects to be mitigated, facilitating the discrimination of burnt areas in the imagery. The Normalized Burn Ratio (NBR) index is computed for the 7-day MVC composite and the most recent MODIS image acquired (single date image). The difference between the two indexes is computed as dNBR = NBR (single date) – NBR (7-day composite image). When a dNBR threshold is exceeded, the pixels are classified as “potential burnt areas”. The burnt areas mapped with the automatic approach are further verified by GIS analysts through visual interpretation of the imagery. If this agrees with the automatic classification, the area burned identified is converted to the final vector polygons. 2 - Fire severity: the methodology applied to compute the fire severity exploits the Terra and Aqua MODIS satellite images acquired before (pre-fire) and after (post-fire) each fire event. For both the pre and post MODIS images, the Normalized Burn Ratio (NBR) is computed as: NBR = (Band4 - Band7) / (Band4 + Band7). Then, the post-fire NBR is subtracted from the pre-fire NBR deriving the “differenced NBR” . Five classes of increasing severity are assigned for increasing values of differenced NBR, with interval endpoints as follows: {0.1, 0.255, 0.41, 0.66}. Values less than 0.1 are considered in the first severity class (very low), while values greater than 0.66 lie in the last severity class (very high).

Additional information

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European Commission, Joint Research Centre
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