Views and Visions: Posts from our People
Portugal experience after devastating fires
I travelled to the University of Coimbra in Portugal in late June, where I was hosted for two weeks at the Centre for Forest Fire Studies (CEIF). My trip came at an extremely busy time for CEIF researchers; immediately after devastating forest-fires in the region that took the lives of over 60 people. CEIF staff were involved in the fire response and research into several aspects of the fire.
There are several researchers working at CEIF, researching topics including fire safety (e.g. testing boots) and fire behaviour. During my stay, I got to know the researchers and the interesting work they do. I was given a tour of the Laboratory for Forest Fire Studies, a huge shed with many large pieces of equipment used for conducting scaled experiments of certain parts of extreme-fire behaviour. These include wind tunnels, a fire whirl generator and fire tables, where angles of different parts of a platform are set into different formations to investigate fire movement across slopes and valleys. I was also able to travel with researchers to see fire affected areas during a research trip.
My trip to Coimbra was valuable for my own PhD research into spot-fire behaviour, as I was able meet with experts and discuss pertinent research being conducted at CEIF. This includes research into topographic influence on extreme-fire spread, and the behaviour of merging fires (e.g. a spot-fire with a large fire).
This was a great trip. I’m grateful to everyone at CEIF for hosting me at such a busy time, and to the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC for supporting the trip. I will look for future opportunities to work with CEIF on research projects that can be of benefit here in Australia, Portugal and other countries where extreme-fires are a problem.