Published works

Published works

Mitigating the effects of severe fires, floods and heatwaves through the improvements of land dryness measures and forecasts: annual project report 2016-17

TitleMitigating the effects of severe fires, floods and heatwaves through the improvements of land dryness measures and forecasts: annual project report 2016-17
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsKumar, V, Dharssi, I, Holmes, A
Document Number317
Date Published09/2017
InstitutionBushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
CityMelbourne
Report Number317
Abstract

The Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC project titled “Mitigating the Effects of Severe Fires, Floods and Heatwaves through the Improvements of Land Dryness Measures and Forecasts” examines the use of detailed land surface models, satellite measurements and ground based observations for the monitoring and prediction of landscape dryness. This project will address a fundamental limitation in our ability to prepare for fires, floods and heatwaves and is directly linked to pre-event planning as well as forecasting of events. 

Currently landscape dryness is estimated in Australia using simple empirical models developed in the 1960’s. The most prominent of those used in Australia are the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI; Keetch & Byram 1968) and the Soil Dryness Index (SDI; Mount 1972). An initial study performed as part of this project suggest that analyses of soil moisture can be improved by using physically based land surface models, remote sensing measurements and data assimilation. The project has developed a stand alone prototype land surface modelling system to produce daily soil moisture analyses at 5km resolution and at 4 soil layers. Verification against ground based soil moisture observations show that this prototype system is significantly more skilful than both KBDI and SDI.

The present report documents the activities undertaken in 2016-2017. The main focus of the year has been on the calibration of soil moisture from a new high resolution land surface modelling system allowing for easier utilisation within existing operational fire prediction systems. The calibrated outputs will be evaluated against numerous case studies that include past bush fire occurrences and fuel reduction burns conducted by fire agencies. This work is in progress and eight case studies have been identified so far. These case studies were selected with the help of end users. All case studies will be documented and could be used as training documentation by fire agencies.

All the resources from our 2016 conference

Research program in detail

Where, why and how are Australians dying in floods?

2015-2016 year in review

Bushfire planning with kids ebook