Fire activity on drylands and floodplains in the southern Okavango Delta, Botswana
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Satellite imagery derived fire history data for the southern Okavango Delta, Botswana from 1989 to 2003 were used to analyse the temporal and spatial distribution of fires and to assess changes in fire activity. Maximum fire activity was encountered for 1997 with 24.1% of the study area burned. The annual extent of the burned area fluctuated considerably, but there appeared to be a regular oscillation apparently induced by floodplain fires. The main fire activity on drylands is in September at the end of the dry season, while most floodplains burn earlier in the year. Both burning of floodplains and drylands appear to peak prior to floods and rainfall-events, respectively. Areas with highest fire frequency were outlined and spatial analyses showed that fires on the drylands are largely due to burning of adjacent floodplains. The floodplains were therefore identified as the centres of fire activity, being the regions with the highest fire frequency and serving as source of fires spreading into drylands. Floodplains showed higher fire frequencies compared to drylands, but no increase in fire activity was detected over the study period for both floodplains and drylands.
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