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I am looking for the best band combination with Landsat 5 imagery to detect fire scars.

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2 Answers 2

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This varies greatly on the characteristics of the scene. Fire scar mapping studies using Landsat-5 TM have used the following three band combinations:

  • Spain: Bands 4, 5, 7

CHUVIECO, E., and CONGALTON, R., 1988, Mapping and inventory of forest fires from digital processing of TM data. Geocarto International, 4, 41–53.

  • Amazonia: Bands 3, 4, 5

PEREIRA, M. C., and SETZER, A. W., 1993, Spectral characteristics of fire scars in Landsat-5 TM images of Amazonia. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 14, 2061–2078.

  • Greece: Bands 4, 7, 1 or Bands 4, 7, 2

KOUTSIAS, N., and KARTERIS, M., 1998, Logistic regression modeling of multitemporal Thematic Mapper data for burned area mapping. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 19, 3499–3514.

KOUTSIAS, N., and KARTERIS, M., 2000, Burned area mapping using logistic regression modeling of a single post-fire Landsat-5 Thematic Mapper image. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 21, 673–687.

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Just adding a few more words on the subject: According to Koutsias and Karteris (1998, 2000), the spectral channels TM 4 and TM 7 provide, in both multitemporal and unitemporal data sets, the highest and second best burned area detection ability respectively. –  Nikos Alexandris Jul 28 at 19:45
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Based on single post-fire data sets, Pu and Gong (2004) also report that TM 4 and TM 7 are the best burned area discriminators. Among the visible channels, TM 1 and TM 2 were identified as the most useful in the multitemporal and the unitemporal studies respectively. | Pu, R. and Gong, P. (2004). Determination of burnt scars using logistic regression and neural network techniques from a single post-fire Landsat 7 ETM+ image. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, 70(7):841–850. –  Nikos Alexandris Jul 28 at 19:47

Another option if you have pre and post fire scenes is to use the differenced Normalised Burn Ratio (Key and Benson 1999), which really makes fire scars stand out.

dNBR is calculated as:

NBR = (R4-R7) / (R4+R7)

dNBR = NBRprefire - NBRpostfire

Where: RN = reflectance (not raw digital numbers) of Landsat 5 TM band 4 or 7.

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+1 Indices are a very good method for visualizing features of interest and are useful in analysis. –  Aaron Jul 28 at 3:50

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