In March 2019, Dr. Joanne Hall (Assistant Research Professor) was invited to Ukraine by the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI) to present on monitoring open burning and emissions using satellites within cropland. Following this meeting, Dr. Joanne Hall gathered and led a team of international collaborators and local experts, including Dr. Louis Giglio, Dr. Sergii Skakun, alongside two members of the Working Group on Fires within the Parliament of Ukraine, and a Ukrainian farmer.

The underestimation of the extent of agricultural burning in many regions of the world has been suspected, often based on anecdotal evidence, for many years. Due to the highly ephemeral nature of this type of burning, traditional remote sensing approaches have been almost entirely unsuccessful at capturing these burns. This manuscript develops a new technique to estimate cropland burned area in Ukraine by calibrating active fire data with exhaustively mapped cropland areas (42,958 fields). For the first time, our study gives precise numbers for this underestimation within a major agricultural region of the world, namely Ukraine, which contains 70% agricultural lands. Specifically, we found that cropland burned area was significantly underestimated by more than 95% in Ukraine’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory – a policy-relevant document supplied to the United Nations. This extreme underreporting of fire activity, and consequently emissions, has real-world implications as this document is used for 1) the country’s greenhouse gas compliance under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, and 2) for open burning policy decisions made within the Ukrainian Government.

Our results have been used as evidence to support the development of a new national strategy for landscape fire management under leadership from the Ukrainian Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources as well as the Working Group on Fires within the Parliament of Ukraine.

Our full article can be found here:

fire burning