Understanding and Mitigating Hazards
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While a number of advances have been made in understanding bushfire development under extreme conditions, these have not been quantified in a manner that is suitable for inclusion in fire behaviour modelling framework. One of the main aims of this project is to develop statistical models that allow for the inclusion of dynamic effects when they are important – that is, when fires grow sufficiently large and complex.

While a number of advances have been made in understanding bushfire development under extreme conditions, these have not been quantified in a manner that is suitable for inclusion in fire behaviour modelling framework. One aim of this project is to develop statistical models that allow for the inclusion of dynamic effects when they are important – that is, when fires grow sufficiently large and complex.

This project 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 project 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).

This project involves three overlapping research activities:

  1. Collating fire behaviour observations - creating a database of observations of extreme fire behaviour to use in model development and verification, working with government agencies to develop reconstructions of past fire events.
  2. Understanding extreme fire weather and fire behaviour - determining the thresholds in fire and environmental conditions (weather, fuel, topography) that lead to extreme fire phenomena, such as fire tornados and ember storms.
  3. Factors linked to extreme fire behaviour - developing simple statistical equations to represent dynamic fire phenomena that can be integrated into existing firebehaviour models.

The project is expected to benefit both the research and operational management communities by greatly improving knowledge of extreme bushfires. Currently, there is limited information with which to develop new models or test theories about extreme fire behaviour.

This project will create new observational datasets of such fires and use them to describe empirical relationships between fire phenomena and the key environmental conditions that drive them. These relationships could be incorporated into existing fire simulation systems and generate further research, including the verification of physics-based models and the development of new theories of fire propagation.

16 August, 2016
New journal articles and reports on CRC research are available online.
Dr Kevin Tolhurst (left) receives the Ember Award from IAWF Vice-President Alen Slijepcevic.
19 April, 2016
Dr Kevin Tolhurst has been internationally recognised for his contribution to fire science.
Kevin Tolhurst
10 June, 2015
Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC researcher Associate Professor Kevin Tolhurst (University of Melbourne) and AFAC staff member Sandra Lunardi have both been recognised for their achievements in the recent Queen's Birthday Honours list.
Mercury Rising was streamed live online, as well as a studio audience
7 October, 2014
The replay of the live stream of the Mercury Rising: Extreme Bushfires industry and public forum is now available.
Trent Penman Conference Poster 2016
14 Aug 2016

The bushfire behaviour and management group of the University of Melbourne is conducting a project to identify the thresholds beyond which dynamic fire behaviour becomes a dominant factor and determine the combination of conditions for such behaviours to occur.

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Kevin Tolhurst Conference Poster 2016
14 Aug 2016

This project aims to better describe the nature of bushfires, especially very severe ones, and the effect of land-use planning responses in reducing bushfire risk across a wide range of values and assets.

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Trent Penman Conference Poster 2016
14 Aug 2016

Bushfire management involves making decisions about complex issues that involve people, communities, stakeholders and organisations with many different perceptions and objectives.

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