Tutorials / Use ArcGIS to determine fire affected areas in NRT using MODIS and VIIRS

This tutorial shows how using ArcGIS Pro, MODIS Bands 7-2-1 and VIIRS M11-I2-I1 Corrected Reflectance Imagery can be viewed in combination with the active fire data to identify fire-affected areas that are characterized by deposits of charcoal and ash, removal of vegetation and/or alteration of vegetation structure.

The standard MODIS burned area products [MCD64A1] are not available in near real-time.
Find out more about the MODIS burned area products at: http://modis-fire.umd.edu/ba.html.


Southern California on Aug 26th 2013



Limitations: This “recipe” was put together at the request of users who wanted to do a quick assessment of burned area; it is meant for timely applications that require a quick assessment of burned area. The method relies on visual interpretation and does not provide a robust or systematic means of determining burned areas.
Please note this method does not work in all areas and will not work if the area affected by fire is not big enough, or hot enough to burn and remove the vegetation or alter the vegetation structure. Under the right conditions it can provide a quick assessment of area burned as this tutorial shows.



Step 1 - Add ArcGIS Server

  • Launch ArcGIS Pro
  • Create New Map
  • Add ArcGIS Server

  • For Server URL enter http://modis.arcgis.com/arcgis/rest/services/MODIS/ImageServer
  • Click OK

Step 2 - Find MODIS / VIIRS Data

  • In your Catalog window expand 'Servers'
  • Expand 'arcgis on modis.arcgis ...'
  • For MODIS: Drag MODIS into your Map (Drawing Order). Do not expand MODIS
  • For VIIRS: Drag VIIRS into your Map

Step 3 -Set MODIS / VIIRS Layer Properties

  • Right+click on the MODIS or VIIRS layer
  • Select 'Properties'

  • Select Definition Query tab
  • Click on Add Clause

  • Set 'Field' to Dataset_ID
  • Click on 'Values' drop-down menu
  • Click on button 'More'
  • This will read the dataset - it will take a brief moment

  • Once the dataset is read, the dropdown will show a list of available MODIS/VIIRS layers
  • For MODIS: Select MODIS_Terra_CorrectedReflectance_Bands721 option
  • For VIIRS: Select VIIRS SNPP M11-I2-I1 option
  • Click 'Add'

  • As a check, click 'SQL' button in the top
  • Your query should look like this
  • For MODIS: Dataset_ID = 'MODIS_Terra_CorrectedReflectance_Bands721'
  • For VIIRS: Dataset_ID = 'VIIRS SNPP M11-I2-I1'

  • Select Time tab on the left side
  • Set Time Extent from 8/16/2013 to 8/26/2013
  • * VIIRS data through ArcGIS server only extends to 12/01/2015
  • Click OK to close the menu

Step 4 - Request FIRMS MODIS / VIIRS data

  • Use Archive Download to request fire data
  • See settings below
  • For VIIRS: select 'Fire data source' VIIRS or download both as MODIS C6 & VIIRS
  • Once your request is processed you will be notified by email and you can download the data onto your computer

Step 5 - Add FIRMS Data

  • In the 'Drawing Order' right+click on 'Map'
  • Select 'Add Data'

  • Locate the folder with downloaded and unzipped firms .shp data
  • Click OK

  • Navigate to southern California. The approximate coordinates are 37°50’N and 120°00’W
  • Your map should look similar to this
  • * Note - the color of fires may be different as ArcGIS assigns it at random.

Step 6 - Set Custom Date

  • Right+click on 'fire_archive_...' layer
  • Select 'Properties'

  • Select Definition Query tab
  • Set 'Field' to ACQ_DATE
  • Choose the date of interest from the dropdown menu
  • This example uses 08/26/2013
  • Click 'Add'
  • Click OK at the bottom

  • Use the time slider on the map to change the MODIS Bands 7-2-1 Imagery dates to view changes

Step 7 - Final Image

  • Time slider and fire data are both set to 08/26/2016
  • Zoomed to southern California. Approximate coordinates are 37°50’N and 120°00’W