Understanding and Mitigating Hazards

PhD opportunity

Key Topics:

Project Status:

PhD: Development of a novel method to estimate the flammability of Australian fuels

Supervisors:

Dr Malcolm Possell and Dr Tina Bell Research location: Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Sydney, Centre for Carbon, Water and Food

There are a number of ways to assess fire behaviour, for example, by describing how a fire burns, timing how fast it travels, and measuring how much heat is released. Flammability of fuel is a common measure of fire behaviour and is composed of four different components: ignitability, sustainability, combustibility and consumability. Flammability is related to intrinsic properties of the fuels such as structural characteristics, chemical composition, fuel moisture content and fuel arrangement. However, flammability has been hard to define scientifically, which makes it difficult to use as a metric to assess fire hazard and hence predict fire behaviour. Consequently, grassland fire danger indices such as the CSIRO Grassland Fire Spread Meter, which are used to estimate the potential of fires to spread, often rely on meteorological parameters and estimates of the state of grass curing because they are easier to determine.

This project will aim to develop a method to score and subsequently rank the flammability of Australian vegetation. This will be a complementary tool for use with other techniques for assessing fire hazards and predicting fire behaviour. Predictions of the flammability of different vegetation types will be made throughout an annual growth cycle and at varying landscape scales and resulting flammability models will be validated in the field. The student will gain field-based skills in fuel collection and assessment and analytical skills in calorimetry and plant chemical composition. The Faculty of Agriculture and Environment and the Centre for Carbon, Water and Food at the University of Sydney has world-class facilities and capabilities for analysis of vegetation and fuels that are not available elsewhere in Australia. In the recent ERA ranking process, the University of Sydney had maximum scores in the fields of Soil Science and Plant Biology and currently boasts five Future Fellows.

Send an enquiry

More information

Lyndsey Wright

Contract Research and Education Manager, Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

Phone: 03 9412 9600
Email: lyndsey.wright@bnhcrc.com.au

Level 5 / 340 Albert Street
East Melbourne, Victoria 3002

Postgraduate Scholarships Application Process

Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC postgraduate scholarships are available for students pursuing research higher degrees in the bushfire research fields, in line with Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC projects.

Both Full and Top Up scholarships and project support funding are available for outstanding students, with preference given to the provision of top up scholarships.

Current funding amounts are:

  • Full Scholarships of up to $28,000 per annum for three and a half years.
  • Top Up scholarships of $10,000 per annum for three and a half years to holders of Australian Postgraduate Awards (APA) and University Research Scholarships.

Bushfire & Natural Hazard CRC Scholarship Application Kit

You are welcome to submit enquiries using the form on this page. However, you must complete this form to make an application.

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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

Research clusters