Andrew Sturgess

End-user
About
Andrew Sturgess

Lead end user

This project uses cutting-edge technology and imagery to produce spatial information on fire hazard and impacts needed by planners, land managers and emergency services to manage fire at landscape scales. The team works closely with agencies to better understand their procedures and information needs, comparing these with the spatial data and mapping methods that are readily available, and developing the next generation of mapping technologies to help them prepare and respond to bushfires.
Research team:
This project seeks to optimise the use of earth observing systems for active fire monitoring by exploring issues of scale, accuracy and reliability, and to improve the mapping and estimation of post-fire severity and fuel change through empirical remote sensing observations. Outcomes will enable satellite measures of fire activity to be made, which in turn have the potential to inform or support efforts in bushfire response planning and fire rehabilitation efforts. A particular focus is on the analysis of data obtained from Himawari-8, which is able to provide updated imagery on a 10 minute basis.
This research has developed a prototype, high-resolution soil-moisture analysis system called JASMIN, which is a significant improvement in accuracy compared to currently used models. It is based on research that examines the use of land surface models, remotely sensed satellite measurements and data assimilation techniques to improve the monitoring and prediction of soil dryness. The new information will be calibrated for use within the existing fire prediction systems. This retains the accuracy, temporal and spatial resolution of the new product without changing the overall climatology of Forest Fire Danger Index and other calculations based on soil moisture.
This project is applying physics-based approaches to fire scenarios. It attempts to simulate fire with unprecedented detail and in the process obtain useful application tools for end-users.
This study is identifying the thresholds beyond which dynamic fire behaviour becomes a dominant factor, the effects that these dynamic effects have on the overall power output of a fire, and the impacts that such dynamic effects have on fire severity. This will necessarily include consideration of other factors such as how fine fuel moisture varies across a landscape. The research team is investigating the conditions and processes under which bushfire behaviour undergoes major transitions, including fire convection and plume dynamics, evaluating the consequences of eruptive fire behaviour (spotting, convection driven wind damage, rapid fire spread) and determining the combination of conditions for such behaviours to occur (unstable atmosphere, fuel properties and weather conditions).
Research team:

Fire behaviour in dry eucalypt forests in Australia (and in many other vegetation types to a lesser extent) is characterised by the occurrence of spotfires—new fires ignited by the transport of burning debris such as bark ahead of an existing fire. Under most burning conditions, spotfires play little role in the overall propagation of a fire, except where spread is impeded by breaks in fuel or topography and spotfires allow these impediments to be overcome. However, under conditions of severe bushfire behaviour spotfire occurrence can be so prevalent that spotting becomes the dominant propagation mechanism and the fire spreads as a cascade of spotfires forming a ‘pseudo’ front. It has long been recognised that the presence of multiple individual fires affects the behaviour and spread of all fires present. The converging of separate individual fires into larger fires is called coalescence and can lead to rapid increases in fire intensity and spread rate, leading to the phenomenon of a ‘fire storm’. This coalescence effect is frequently used in prescribed burning, with multiple point ignitions used to rapidly burn out large areas.

The team has demonstrated the performance advantages of fire propagation models incorporating curvature dependence when applied to simple wind-driven fires at both laboratory and field scales. The research has also produced fundamental insights into how the shape of the fire line affects the dynamic behaviour of the fire as a whole. Coupled fire-atmosphere modelling was used to investigate how fire-induced air movements (pyroconvection) can produce significantly enhanced rates of spread for certain fire shapes.

Resources credited

Type Released Title Download Key Topics
Presentation-Slideshow 29 Jun 2018 Review of seasonal bushfire outlook PDF icon Save (1.1 MB) fire, fire impacts, fire weather

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