Copernicus Data for Novel High-resolution Wildfire Danger Services in Mountain Regions

Short Description

Starting point / motivation

Wildfires in forests, pastures and croplands are costly events and threaten human health, infrastructure, forestry, agriculture and biodiversity. In Alpine regions, fires enhance the risk of hazards such as avalanches, mudslides or rock fall because of the combustion of the forest and vegetation layer.

Existing systems of the actual forest fire danger are solely based on weather information and do not consider actual surface moisture and vegetation conditions. Consequently, current fire danger forecasts have only coarse resolutions. This limits their applicability in mountain regions such as the Alps.

Key stakeholders such as foresters, firefighters and infrastructure providers have since many years been requesting fire danger prediction systems with higher spatial resolution and a better representation of fuel properties at the surface from the national weather services.

Moreover, climate change is already causing an increasing intensity and frequency of drought and heat waves in the Alpine region. Such weather conditions will likely result in increasing levels of forest fire activity in Austria. Hence, there is a clear need for improved fire danger prediction systems.

Contents and goals

CONFIRM aims to use and integrate high-resolution satellite data and services from the European Copernicus programme (e.g. Copernicus Global land Service) to develop pre-operational services of fire danger prediction for Austria.


Observations from the Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites will be integrated with airborne Laser-scanning (LiDAR) data, high-resolution weather forecasts, socioeconomic and topographic data, and the Austrian fire database to develop a novel, high-resolution and satellite-supported integrated forest fire danger system (IFDS) for Austria.

Machine learning approaches will be applied to estimate the moisture content and structural properties of vegetation and litter fuels, and finally the danger of fire ignition and propagation.

Stakeholders from national weather services (ZAMG/Austria, DWD/Germany), fire brigades (Municipal fire brigades of Graz and Innsbruck, Austrian Federal Fire Brigades Association), forestry (forest administrations of Styria and Tyrol), and infrastructure providers (Austrian railways ÖBB) will be continuously involved in the project to develop the IFDS according to their needs.

CONFIRM will produce a prototype for an operational fire danger prediction system. Fire danger predictions will be produced for Austria and surrounding regions for the fire season 2021 and will be assessed by the stakeholders for the Austrian states of Tyrol and Styria.

The partners will for the first time combine their expertise in active and passive remote sensing (TU Wien-CLIMERS and -MRS, BOKU-IVFL), weather forecasting (ZAMG), Laser-scanning (TUW-PHOTO), and fire science (BOKU, TU Wien-CLIMERS) to better characterize the risk of fire ignitions and spread.

Expected results

The partners will benefit from the integrative approach within CONFIRM that allows Austria to take a leading role in fire research using integrative Earth observation. The stakeholders will receive a better decision basis to improve action planning for preventing large and severe fire events.

In this context, the IFDS will reduce socioeconomic costs related to firefighting operations and the reforestation of burned sites.

Project Partners


Vienna University of Technology - Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation

Project partner

  • Province of Tyrol
  • Provincial Forestry Directorate of Styria
  • Provincial capital Innsbruck, professional fire department Innsbruck
  • Austrian Federal Fire Brigade Association
  • City of Graz, Department of Disaster Control and Fire Brigade, Fire Department
  • University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna - Institute of Silviculture
  • Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG)

Contact Address

Vienna University of Technology
Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation
Wouter Dorigo
Wiedner Hauptstraße 8-10
A-1040 Vienna