Understanding and Mitigating Hazards

Tulku Plume.JPG

Extreme fire weather
Extreme fire weather

Project Status:

This project will use high-resolution modelling, together with the full range of meteorological data, to better understand and predict several important meteorological natural hazards, including fire weather, tropical cyclones, severe thunderstorms, and heavy rainfall.

This project is using high-resolution modelling, together with a range of meteorological data, to better understand and predict important meteorological natural hazards, including fire weather, tropical cyclones, severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall. The outcomes from the project will contribute to reducing the impact and cost of these hazards on people, infrastructure, the economy and the environment.

Specific areas within the project include studies on the Blue Mountains bushfires of 2013; ember transport by fire plumes; pyrocumulus cloud simulation and prediction, and heavy rain and tropical cyclone formation.

One major area of focus has been on the use of a sophisticated large eddy model of fire plumes to investigate two important phenomena associated with such plumes: long-range ember transport or spotting, and the formation of pyrocumulus cloud. Substantial progress has been made in these areas.

The second major area has been the analysis of the meteorology during the October 2013 Blue Mountains bushfires. This work relies on a very high resolution simulation of 17 October, when major fire spread occurred and a substantial number of houses were lost.

A separate case study has also been selected for modelling and analysis, in consultation with end-users. In April 2015, a major East Coast Low affected the New South Wales central coast, producing strong winds, major flooding, high seas and coastal erosion. Over 200,000 houses lost power, and tragically four deaths occurred.

Modelling this event takes the novel approach of utilising a high-resolution ensemble of model simulations, so that predictability of the event, as well as its meteorology, can be analysed. Such ensembles will be the core of future severe weather prediction, and this study will provide clues to both meteorologists and emergency services personnel as to how best use this new source of information.

Specific outcomes of this project will:

  • Improve the scientific understanding of severe weather phenomena in Australia.
  • Improve the knowledge of how to best predict these phenomena, including model configuration and interpretation.
  • Contribute to the post-event analysis and lessons learned of selected severe events that occur during the course of the project.
  • Inform the development of numerical weather prediction systems specifically for severe weather.
CRC sign
17 November, 2016
New journal articles and reports on CRC research are available online.
14 September, 2016
New journal articles and reports on CRC research are available online.
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.
Year Type Citation
2016 Conference Paper Rumsewicz, M. Research proceedings from the 2016 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 2016 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Conference Paper Thurston, W., Tory, K. J., Fawcett, R. J. B. & Kepert, J. D. The effects of turbulent plume dynamics on long-range spotting. AFAC16 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Report Kepert, J. D. et al. Improved predictions of severe weather to reduce community impact: Annual project report 2015-2016. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2016 Report Tory, K. J., Peace, M. & Thurston, W. Pyrocumulonimbus forecasting: needs and issues. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2015 Conference Paper Kepert, J. D., Naughton, M. & Bally, J. Managing Severe Weather - Progress and Opportunities Conference Paper 2014. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Wellington Conference 2014 (2015).
2015 Conference Paper Fawcett, R. J. B., Yeo, C., Thurston, W., Kepert, J. D. & Tory, K. J. Modelling the Fire Weather of the Coonabarabran Fire of 13 January 2013. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Wellington Conference 2014 (2015).
2015 Conference Paper Rumsewicz, M. Research proceedings from the 2015 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 2015 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Conference Paper Thurston, W., Tory, K. J., Fawcett, R. J. B. & Kepert, J. D. Large-eddy simulations of pyro-convection and its sensitivity to environmental conditions - peer viewed. Adelaide Conference 2015 (2015).
2015 Journal Article Thurston, W., Fawcett, R. J. B., Tory, K. J. & Kepert, J. D. Simulating boundary-layer rolls with a numerical weather prediction model. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 1-14 (2015). at <http://www.cawcr.gov.au/staff/jdk/Kepert_papers/Thurston_etal_2015_qjrms_acc.pdf>
2015 Presentation Kepert, J. D., Thurston, W., Ching, S., Tory, K. J. & Fawcett, R. J. B. Improved predictions of severe weather to reduce community risk. (2015).
2015 Report Tory, K. J. & Thurston, W. Pyrocumulonimbus: A Literature Review. (2015).
2015 Report Kerpert, J. D., Tory, K. J., Thurston, W., Ching, S. & Fawcett, R. J. B. Improved predictions of severe weather to reduce community impact: Annual project report 2014-2015. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
Improved predictions of severe weather to help reduce community impact
25 Aug 2014

To improve our understanding of and ability to predict severe weather, including for bush fires, tropical cyclones, severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall, through the use of high-resolution modelling in conjunction with available observations. 

Key Topics:
Weather Science to Societal Impact: Opportunities for Australia in the World Meteorological Organisation's High Impact Weather Project
18 Aug 2015

The Bureau of Meteorology seeks Australian collaborators to participate in a new 10-year international high impact weather project to develop improved hazard prediction capabilities. Its aims align on an international level with those of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC.

Modelling the Fire Weather of the Blue Mountains Fires of October 2013
18 Aug 2015

High resolution simulations over the Blue Mountains Region on 17 October 2013 show several interesting meteorological features.

Long-Range Spotting by Bushfire Plumes: The Effects of In-Plume Turbulence on Firebrand Trajectory
18 Aug 2015

Large-eddy simulations of bushfire plumes are combined with firebrand trajectory calculations to estimate the effects of in-plume turbulence on firebrand transport.  In-plume turbulence  substantially lengthens the maximum spotting distance AND increases the lateral and longitudinal spread of firebrand landing positions.

Will Thurston Conference Poster 2016
14 Aug 2016

Pyrocumulonimbus clouds have been linked to highly dangerous fire behaviour.

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