Research leader

A/Prof Trent Penman Research Leader
Dr Thomas Duff Research Leader

Research team

Dr Alexander Filkov Research Team
A/Prof Jason Sharples
A/Prof Jason Sharples Research Team

End User representatives

Laurence McCoy End-User
Musa Kilinc End-User
Tim Wells End-User
Andrew Stark
Andrew Stark End-User
Mark Chladil
Mark Chladil End-User
Andrew Sturgess End-User
Mike Wouters
Mike Wouters End-User
Jeff Kepert
Dr Jeff Kepert End-User
Dr Neil Burrows
Dr Neil Burrows End-User
Jackson Parker End-User
Brad Davies End-User

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. This project aims 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.

The 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).

There are 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 fires.
  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 fire-behaviour models.

It is expected that both the research and operational management communities will benefit 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.

The research will be utilised through the development of guidelines for identifying environmental conditions causing the extreme fire behaviour phenomena during operational fire behaviour analysis and improved fire behaviour simulators through the inclusion of extreme fire behaviours.

These outputs will result in improved prediction of fire behaviour at the point where damage to property and loss of life is more likely. Improved predictions will improve the knowledge base of fire managers and their ability to make informed decisions during fires and about landscape vulnerability. This will include improving the efficiency and safety of fire suppression activities, better targeting of public information and warnings, and an improved understanding of the potential effectiveness strategies for managing landscape fire risk.

Year Type Citation
2018 Conference Paper Filkov, A., Duff, T. J. & Penman, T. Extreme fire behaviours: Surveying fire management staff to determine behaviour frequencies and importance. AFAC18 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2018).
2018 Conference Paper Bates, J. Research proceedings from the 2018 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 2017 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2018).
2018 Journal Article Matvienko, O. V., Kasymov, D. P., Filkov, A. I., Daneyko, O. I. & Gorbatov, D. A. Simulation of fuel bed ignition by wildland firebrands. International Journal of Wildland Fire 27, (2018).
2018 Journal Article Filkov, A. I., Duff, T. J. & Penman, T. D. Improving Fire Behaviour Data Obtained from Wildfires. Forests 9, (2018).
2018 Journal Article G.Marcot, B. & Penman, T. D. Advances in Bayesian network modelling: Integration of modelling technologies. Environmental Modelling & Software (2018). doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2018.09.016
2018 Report Filkov, A., Duff, T. & Penman, T. Determining threshold conditions for extreme fire behaviour. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2018).
2017 Journal Article Mueller, E. et al. Utilization of remote sensing techniques for the quantification of fire behavior in two pine stands. Fire Safety Journal 91, 845-854 (2017).
2017 Journal Article Fateev, V., Agafontsev, M., Volkov, S. & Filkov, A. Determination of smoldering time and thermal characteristics of firebrands under laboratory conditions. Fire Safety Journal 91, 791-799 (2017).
2017 Journal Article Filkov, A. et al. Investigation of firebrand production during prescribed fires conducted in a pine forest. Proceedings of the Combustion Institute 36, 3270 (2017).
2017 Journal Article Thomas, J. et al. Investigation of firebrand generation from an experimental fire: development of a reliable data collection methodology. Fire Safety Journal 91, 864-871 (2017).
2017 Report Filkov, A., Duff, T. J. & Penman, T. D. Determining threshold conditions for extreme fire behaviour: annual project report 2016-17. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2016 Conference Paper Tolhurst, K. G. & McCarthy, G. J. Effect of prescribed burning on wildfire severity - a landscape case study from the 2003 fires in Victoria. AFAC16 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Report Duff, T. J., Penman, T. D. & Filkov, A. Determining threshold conditions for extreme fire behaviour: Annual project report 2015-2016. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2015 Presentation Duff, T. J. & Penman, T. D. Determining threshold conditions for extreme fire behaviour. (2015).
2015 Report Duff, T. J. & Penman, T. D. Determining threshold conditions for extreme fire behaviour: Annual project report 2014-2015. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
Trent Penman Conference Poster 2016
14 Aug 2016
The bushfire behaviour and management group of the University of Melbourne is conducting a project to...
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...
Trent Penman Conference Poster 2016
14 Aug 2016
Bushfire management involves making decisions about complex issues that involve people, communities,...
Extreme fire behaviours: Surveying fire management staff to determine behaviour frequencies and importance
19 Sep 2018
Extreme fire behaviours (EFBs) are phenomena that occur within intense fires that have been shown to...