Bushfire and Natural Hazard Risks

Lake-Mountain-post-2009.jpg

Lake Mountain landscape post Black Saturday fires
Lake Mountain landscape post Black Saturday fires

Project Status:

This project will develop methods to produce the spatial information on fire hazard needed by planners, land managers and emergency services. September 2016 - this project has a new PhD opportunity to use new technology to monitor fire risk on Department of Defence land. See flyer in description tab.

September 2016 - this project has a new PhD opportunity to use new technology to monitor fire risk on Department of Defence land. Applications close 30 September 2016, see flyer below for more information 

Document title: 
New technology to monitor fire risk on Defence Lands - PhD opportunity
PDF iconphd_description.pdf

Understanding and predicting fire behaviour is a priority for fire agencies, land managers and sometimes individual businesses and residents. This is an enormous scientific challenge given bushfires are complex processes, with their behaviour and resultant severity driven by complicated interactions involving vegetation, topography and weather conditions.

A good understanding of fire risk acrossthe landscape is critical in preparing and responding to bushfires and managing fire regimes, and this understanding will be enhanced by remote sensing data. However, the vast array of spatial data sources available is not being used very effectively in fire management.

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 group 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.

The project is focused on two related activities:

  1. Fire hazard mapping and monitoring – this focuses on spatial information of fuel load, structure and moisture properties that can assist fire preparedness through better fire danger ratings and fire behaviour predictions. This supports logistics and resources planning by emergency services, and can also improve fire management by helping guide activities such as scheduling and implementing prescribed burning. Discussions between researchers and end-users indicate that the greatest and most urgent information gap is spatial information on forest fuel load, structure and moisture.
  2. Fire impacts on landscape values - land managers also need spatial information on the expected fire impacts on landscape values, such as water resources, carbon storage, habitat and remaining fuel load. Relevant issues include the impact of unplanned or prescribed fires and subsequent recovery on catchment water yield and the carbon lost due to fire and then subsequently taken up during regeneration. Current prediction methods are crude and make bold assumptions (for example, about the similarity of the water use patterns between [well-studied] recovering mountain ash forests and [unstudied] other forest types).

The project has made progress in developing a model framework. It has also developed and tested a new software tool to automatically derive detailed vegetation structure information from groundbased LiDAR, and has maintained good engagement with end-users.

Two workshops were held with operational stakeholders and other researchers to communicate progress on the research goals and material has been disseminated in two journal papers and other publications, 15 conference papers, blogs and other media.

A cool change approaches the 2015 Hastings fire in Victoria. Photo: Glenn Thompson
11 November, 2016
A special edition of the journal Climatic Change, featuring CRC researchers, documents the historical record and projected change of seven natural hazards in Australia: flood; storms (including wind and hail); coastal extremes; drought; heatwave; bushfire; and frost.
Time to consider our research
13 October, 2016
New journal articles and reports on CRC research are available online.
Adam Leavesley and Marta Yebra planning field work. Photo by Geoff Cary
14 April, 2015
Over the last few months the Mapping bushfire hazard and impacts team has been undertaking a number of activities with our end users, including involvement in prescribed burns to gather data.
Year Type Citation
2017 Journal Article Quan, X. et al. A radiative transfer model-based method for the estimation of grassland aboveground biomass. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 54, (2017).
2016 Journal Article Kiem, A. S. et al. Natural hazards in Australia: droughts. Climatic Change 139, 37-54 (2016).
2016 Journal Article Johnson, F. et al. Natural hazards in Australia: floods. Climatic Change 139, 21-35 (2016).
2016 Journal Article Holgate, C. M. et al. Comparison of remotely sensed and modelled soil moisture data sets across Australia. Remote Sensing of Environment 186, (2016).
2016 Report Yebra, M., van Dijk, A. & Cary, G. J. Mapping bushfire hazard and impacts: Annual project report 2015-2016. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2015 Journal Article Yebra, M., van Dijk, A., Leuning, R. & Guerschman, J. Pablo. Global vegetation gross primary production estimation using satellite-derived light-use efficiency and canopy conductance. Remote Sensing of Environment 163, 206-216 (2015).
2015 Presentation Yebra, M., van Dijk, A. & Cary, G. J. Mapping bushfire hazard and impact. (2015).
2015 Report Yebra, M., van Dijk, A. & Cary, G. J. Mapping bushfire hazard and impacts: Annual project report 2014-2015. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Report van Dijk, A., Yebra, M. & Cary, G. J. A model-data fusion framework for estimating fuel properties, vegetation growth, carbon storage and the water balance at hillslope scale. (2015).
2015 Report Yebra, M., Marselis, S., van Dijk, A., Cary, G. J. & Chen, Y. Using LiDAR for forest and fuel structure mapping: options, benefits, requirements and costs. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Report van Dijk, A. Mapping Bushfire Hazard and Impacts Annual Report 2014. (2015).
Mapping bushfire hazard and impact
25 Aug 2014

Little accurate and timely spatial information is currently available on bushfire hazard and impacts.

Key Topics:
Mapping Bushfire Hazard and Impact
18 Aug 2015

A good understanding of fire risk across the landscape is critical in preparing and responding to bushfire events and managing fire regimes, and this will be enhanced by remote sensing data. However, the vast array of spatial data sources available is not being used very effectively in fire management.

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 effectively manage fire at landscape scales

Mapping forest fuel load and structure from airborne LiDAR data
18 Aug 2015

Australia is a dry continent, with high climate variability, and is continually vulnerable to natural hazards like bushfires. to better evaluate and reduce the risk of bushfires, fire management agencies and land managers need timely, accurate and spatially explicit understorey fuel metrics along with climatic and other spatial topographical information. The Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data and technology is a proven alternative to traditionally time consuming and labour intensive fuel assessment methods.

Marta Yebra Conference Poster 2016
12 Aug 2016

Live fuel moisture content (LFMC) is one of the primary variables affecting bushfire flammability.

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