This paper presents results of the AQL2004 project, which has been develope within the GOFC-GOLD Latin American network of remote sensing and forest fires (RedLatif). The project intended to obtain monthly burned-land maps of the entire region, from Mexico to Patagonia, using MODIS (moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer) reflectance data. The project has been organized in three different phases: acquisition and preprocessing of satellite data; discrimination of burned pixels; and validation of results. In the first phase, input data consisting of 32-day composites of MODIS 500-m reflectance data generated by the Global Land Cover Facility (GLCF) of the University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland, U.S.A.) were collected and processed. The discrimination of burned areas was addressed in two steps: searching for "burned core" pixels using postfire spectral indices and multitemporal change detection and mapping of burned scars using contextual techniques. The validation phase was based on visual analysis of Landsat and CBERS (China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite) images. Validation of the burned-land category showed an agreement ranging from 30% to 60%, depending on the ecosystem and vegetation species present. The total burned area for the entire year was estimated to be 153 215 km2. The most affected countries in relation to their territory were Cuba, Colombia, Bolivia, and Venezuela. Burned areas were found in most land covers; herbaceous vegetation (savannas and grasslands) presented the highest proportions of burned area, while perennial forest had the lowest proportions. The importance of croplands in the total burned area should be taken with reserve, since this cover presented the highest commission errors. The importance of generating systematic products of burned land areas for different ecological processes is emphasized
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