Understanding and Mitigating Hazards

Lake-Mountain-post-2009.jpg

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

Project Status:

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 team 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.

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 across the 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 team 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 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.
  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.

The team has developed, tested and published software to classify a dense point cloud derived from a mobile laser scanner into different vegetation components: ground returns, near-surface vegetation, elevated understory vegetation (shrubs), tree trunks and tree canopy. The resulting classified point cloud is used to automatically derive information on the different fuel components that are important for fire hazard assessment such as total biomass, fractional cover and height. These results open a pathway of automatically deriving detailed vegetation structure information from ground-based LiDAR.

The team have also developed a pre-operational near-real time flammability data service (The Australian Flammability Monitoring System) to support fire risk management and response activities such as hazard reduction burning and pre-positioning firefighting resources and, in the long term, the new National Fire Danger Rating System. The prototype service is being built in consultation with end-users to make sure the system is adapted to their needs in terms of data content and formats. Ongoing evaluation and improvement is key aspect of the prototype development.

In 2017, project leader Dr Marta Yebra was awarded the prestigious Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship from the Australian Academy of Science.

Dr Marta Yebra, Max Day
21 June, 2017
An inaugural award recognising scientific achievements has been presented to Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC researcher Dr Marta Yebra.
Dr Marta Yebra conducting a grassland fire experiment. Photo: Carolina Luiz
29 March, 2017
CRC researcher Dr Marta Yebra has taken out the prestigious Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award.
15 March, 2017
CRC researcher Associate Prof Geoff Cary has been awarded the Outstanding Associate Editor Award by the International Journal of Wildland Fire.
Post fire field work
19 December, 2016
New journal articles and reports on CRC research are available online.
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.
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 Holgate, C. M. et al. Comparison of remotely sensed and modelled soil moisture data sets across Australia. Remote Sensing of Environment 186, (2016).
2016 Journal Article Marselis, S., Yebra, M., Jovanovic, T. & van Dijk, A. Deriving comprehensive forest structure information from mobile laser scanning observations using automated point cloud classification. Environmental Modelling & Software 82, 142-151 (2016).
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 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 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).
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).
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.

The Australian Flammability Monitoring System
29 Jun 2017

The first national-scale, pre-operational, near-real time live fuel moisture content and flammability monitoring system for Australia.

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