Applying Fire Spread Simulators in New Zealand and Australia: Results from an International Seminar

Classify & Cross-ref
Fire Behaviour
Project Reference: 
TitleApplying Fire Spread Simulators in New Zealand and Australia: Results from an International Seminar
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsOpperman, T, Gould, JS, Finney, M, Tymstra, C
AbstractThere is currently no spatial wildfi re spread and growth simulation model used commonly across New Zealand or Australia. Fire management decision-making would be enhanced through the use of spatial fi re simulators. Various groups from around the world met in January 2006 to evaluate the applicability of different spatial fi re spread applications for common use in both New Zealand and Australia. Developers and researchers from Canada, the United States, and Australia were invited to apply Prometheus, FARSITE, and other similar models to New Zealand and Australian wildfi res in grass, scrub, and forested fuel types. Although the lack of site-specifi c fuel models and weather data were a concern, coarse spatial and temporal data inputs proved adequate for modeling fi res within a reasonable margin of error. The choice of grass models proved less important than expected since spread rates were easily manipulated through moisture content values during calibration. The fi nal modeled perimeters are affected by several user inputs that are impossible to separate from model error. These various inputs exist to allow experienced users to approximate local environmental variability as closely as possible to obtain successful outputs. Rather than attempt to quantify direct comparisons, local users concluded it was more important to choose an application that provides an appropriate level of functionality, that is compatible with current data and fi re management systems, and that can be easily modifi ed to use unique and varied fi re spread equations. Prometheus and FARSITE performed very well and will be further investigated to understand how each might be customized for use with local fi re spread models. This paper describes the process and results of testing some existing fi re growth simulation models for use on fi res in New Zealand and Australia.