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James Brennan


James Brennan
PhD researcher
Twitter: @jamesbrennan


UCL Department of Geography
University College London
North-West Wing
Gower Street



Title: Burned Area Model Intercomparison Project
Supervisor: Prof Philip Lewis
Co-supervisor: Dr Mat Disney
Funding: NERC NCEO Studentship



The key impact of biomass burning as a driver in the Earth System has lead to the development of multi-decadal records of burnt area from satellites. Burning is observed from satellite instruments through two approaches. The first approach attempts to observe actively burning fires through their thermal emissions. There is unfortunately not a clear link from active fires to retrieve burned area which means that estimates of burned area are derived with the addition of methods based on the detection of fire related changes in reflectance from optical satellite borne sensors.  While these methods termed burned area algorithms (or models) share the same aim of estimating the occurrence of burning, there is a large variability in approaches taken. As with any model, a number of assumptions and decisions about the relationship between state and observations are made; but there has been little critical comparison of the impact of these on the products. Instead a primary focus has been on the validation of the burned area products with independent burned area maps. This has proven useful for informing where some models outperform others but does not always provide answers on how to improve the next generation of models. As a result, a comparison of the range of decisions and approaches present at each step of burned area algorithms remains a useful exercise.



PhD/MPhil UCL Geography. NERC NCEO Funded Studentship: 2015-present

BSc Geography, UCL Geography: 2011-2014



Research Assistant, UCL Geography: 2015


Widlowski J.-L., Mio C., Disney M., Adams J., Andredakis I., Atzberger C., Brennan J., Busetto L., Chelle M., Ceccherini G., Colombo R., Côté J-F., Eenmäe A., Essery R., Gastellu-Etchegorry J. P., Gobron N., Grau E., Haverd V., Homolová L., Huang H., Hunt L., Kobayashi H., Koetz B., Kuusk A., Kuusk J., Lang M., Lewis P., Lovell J. L., Malenovsky Z., Meroni M., Morsdorf F., Mõttus M., Ni-Meister W., Pinty B., Rautiainen M., Schlerf M., Somers B., Stuckens J., Verstraete M. M., Yang W., Zhao F. and Zenone T. (2015), 'The fourth phase of the radiative transfer model intercomparison (RAMI) exercise: Actual canopy scenarios and conformity testing.', Remote Sensing of Environment, 169:, 418-437.