Spatial and temporal patterns of fires in tropical savannas of Indonesia

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography




School of Science




Sutomo,. & van Etten, E. (2018). Spatial and temporal patterns of fires in tropical savannas of Indonesia. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 39(2), 281-299. Available here.


This paper examines spatial and temporal patterns of large to medium-sized fires across the Indonesian Archipelago using remote sensing, particularly the MODIS fire products, over a 14 years period (2000–13 inclusive) in conjunction with climatic and land data in a GIS. Results showed fires (burned area and number of fires) were detected the most in year 2002 and least in 2010. The extent of burning was correlated with the annual Southern Oscillation Index with most burning occurring during times of sustained negative SOI values, which generally means drier conditions across the region. Most of the detected fires occurred in the middle of the dry season and in drier eastern Indonesia. Across Indonesia, approximately 1.5 per cent of available open vegetation area burned, whereas only 0.5 per cent of forest area burned. Most open vegetation burning was detected in the savanna with an area equivalent to 11.1 per cent of its extent being burned over the 14 years. On Sumba Island, where the pronounced dry season extends for at least four months, open vegetation is the most common land cover type, of which 99 per cent burned by area over the study period making it the island with the most burned areas in the Indonesian Archipelago.



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