Fire research boost

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Bushfire research in Victoria has been enhanced with a series of new projects

Bushfire research in Victoria has been enhanced with a series of new projects investigating fire behaviour, fire weather, smoke emissions and fire ecology to be undertaken by the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre.

The $6.45 million package of projects is funded by the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment with the Bushfire CRC engaging research partners from across Australia and New Zealand over the next three to four years.

The CEO of the Bushfire CRC, Gary Morgan, said the new projects complemented its current national research program that is funded by the Australian Government and state and territory partners.

“Over the last decade the Bushfire CRC has built up a capacity to properly research the key issues out of major fire events and their potential impacts into the future. This targeted contract research work, while clearly aimed at Victoria’s requirements, will be an additional benefit for our partners, the fire and emergency service agencies across Australia, who already benefit from the nationally coordinated program of fire research out of the CRC Program.”

“The Bushfire CRC will now work closely with research partners to find the right researchers to conduct this new research. We are in the fortunate position of having a network of expert researchers across Australia and New Zealand that can be drawn upon as new research needs arise.”

The research partners of the Bushfire CRC include 15 universities, the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO.

The Bushfire CRC has previously conducted contract research for the Victorian Government in the evaluation of the both the DC-10 and Convair water bombing aircraft as well the extensive work undertaken by the research taskforce following Black Saturday. Other contract work has been conducted for the Australian Government on bushfire detection cameras and a new fire danger rating system, and community surveying for the Western Australian Government following fires in early 2011.

The contracted projects under this new agreement cover the following broad areas:

  • Bushfire climatology -explaining past bushfire weather and climate and how these may vary under climate change projections to build a better risk map for Victoria.
  • Severe fire behaviour characterisation  - Better describe the spread of bushfires and the effect of land use planning responses in reducing bushfire risk.
  • 2009 Black Saturday and other large fires -  model the state of landscape dryness based on fuel moistures of live and dead fuel components in the dry, damp, and wet forests on Black Saturday.
  • Landscape Moisture Modelling -develop models to predict the flammability of forest fuels in the Victorian landscape as a result of changes in fuel moisture content through the drying and wetting of fuels underexposure to the weather and sun.
  • Fire severity rating - assess the current bushfire hazard mapping practicesand explore the relationshipbetween fire behaviour indices of fire damage potential and community loss.
  • Fire Transitions across urban boundaries - identify from analysis of historical fire events the modes by which fires in particular fuel types transition into urban fires thatthen directly impact houses, structures and people.
  • Probability of fire ignition and escalation - establish a conceptual framework and models to predict bushfire ignitions and escalation for strategic and tactical bushfire management planning.
  • Smoke Impacts on community health and social perceptions– identify the human health responses to smoke exposurethrough determining population groups most likely to be vulnerable to impact, and establishing trigger levels for impact in terms of changes to ambient air quality. Also identifying the relationship between real and perceived levels of risk to human health through smoke exposure.
  • Smoke transportation and emissions modelling - improve the capability to model and predict the spread and accumulation or dissipation of smoke for planned and unplanned firesthrough improved smoke trajectory and accumulation or dissipation modelling.
  • Managing scale and uncertainty in fire management planning - develop models to describe the links between fire science and ecological knowledge, and model the relationships between fire severity and fuel and habitat structures in Victorian foothill forests.
  • Growth stage and habitat analysis - model the relationships between flora, fauna, habitat attributes and vegetation growth stages in Victorian foothill forests, and use these models to refine the ecosystemresilience inputs into adaptive fire management.

The Department of Sustainability and Environment's media release can be reviewed on the Victorian Government's media release page.

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Release date

Mon, 10/09/2012