The Eyre Peninsula Fire of 11 January 2005: an ACCESS case study

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This is a paper presented at the 2013 Bushfire CRC Research Forum.

As part of The Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research’s contribution to the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre’s Fire Impact and Risk Evaluation – Decision Support Tool project, high-resolution and very-high-resolution simulations of the meteorology across the Lower Eyre Peninsula (LEP) in South Australia on 11 January 2005 have been performed. These simulations are described and validated against available observational data. A significant bushfire, commonly known as the Wangary fire, broke out on the LEP in the afternoon of 10 January 2005 and continued to burn under severe weather conditions on the 11th. The most significant feature of the meteorology in relation to the fire on the 11th is the passage across the LEP of a cold front and associated wind change in the late morning to early afternoon. This feature is well modelled in the simulations, with timing errors of only 15 to 30 minutes. The simulations show the wind change transforming from an undular bore in the stable maritime boundary layer to a density current over land, accompanied by a weakening of the updraft as it passes over the location of the fire. Boundary-layer rolls are simulated further up the peninsula.