Research leader

Jeff Kepert
Dr Jeff Kepert Research Leader

Research team

Dr Kevin Tory Research Team
Dr Dragana Zovko-Rajak Research Team
Serena Schroeter Research Team

End User representatives

John Bally End-User
Paul Fox-Hughes
Paul Fox-Hughes End-User
Allen Gale
Allen Gale End-User
Caroline Ortel End-User
Mike Bergin
Mike Bergin End-User
Andrew Grace End-User
Frank Crisci End-User
Robert Schwartz End-User

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 case studies undertaken include the New South Wales Blue Mountains bushfires of 2013; ember transport by fire plumes; pyrocumulus cloud simulation and prediction, and the NSW April 2015 East Coast Low.

Ember transport

The study has been developing understanding of how fire embers generated during bushfires can be lifted into the atmosphere and carried by winds ahead of a fire front, potentially starting new fires downwind. The team has undertaken simulations for ember transport for a wide range of wind speeds and ember fall speeds. It is important to consider a range of fall speeds, since different types of embers have different densities and aerodynamic properties which affect how far they are carried.

Pyrocumulonimbus

Plume modelling has also been utilised to study pyrocumulonimbus clouds (PyroCb). Intense fire plumes in suitably moist environments can lead to PyroCb development, with the possibility of strong downbursts which can exacerbate already extreme fire conditions. A survey of current understanding and forecast techniques has been completed, and the team will be working towards developing improved techniques.

Blue Mountains bushfire

A detailed case study of the Blue Mountains fires of October 2013 was undertaken, focusing on 17 October when some 200 houses were destroyed. Analysis uncovered a weather phenomenon known as mountain waves which contributed to the severe fire behaviour. Mountain waves are atmospheric oscillations that occur due to air flowing over hills or mountains. They can arise in several different ways, some more predictable than others. Often they cause strong downslope winds on the lee slope of the hill or mountain.

April 2015 East Coast Low

Collectively, the ensemble weather simulations accurately predicted the position and intensity of the low, the strong winds and the rainfall. The differences between them give insight as to the forecast uncertainty, the overall envelope of areas at some risk, and the areas at highest risk. The ensemble also enables insight into the processes that lead to the rapid intensification of these systems. The team is continuing to learn from ensemble simulations about predictability of East Coast Lows and how to use this information to benefit both forecasters and the emergency services.

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.
Year Type Citation
2018 Journal Article Zieger, S., Greenslade, D. & Kepert, J. Wave ensemble forecasts for tropical cyclones in the Australian region. Ocean Dynamics 68, 603-625 (2018).
2018 Journal Article Kepert, J. The boundary layer dynamics of tropical cyclone rainbands. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences 75, (2018).
2018 Report Tory, K. J. Models of buoyant plume rise. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2018).
2017 Conference Paper Kepert, J. D. Secondary eyewall formation in tropical cyclones. AFAC17 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Conference Paper Rumsewicz, M. Research proceedings from the 2017 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 2017 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Conference Paper Tory, K. J., Thurston, W. & Kepert, J. D. Thermodynamic considerations of pyrocumulus formation. AFAC17 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2017 Journal Article Kepert, J. D. Time and space scales in the tropical cyclone boundary layer, and the location of the eyewall updraft. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences (2017). doi:10.1175/JAS-D-17-0077.1
2017 Journal Article Thurston, W., Kepert, J. D., Tory, K. J. & Fawcett, R. J. B. The contribution of turbulent plume dynamics to long-range spotting. International Journal of Wildland Fire 26, 317-330 (2017).
2017 Report Kepert, J. D. et al. Improved predictions of severe weather to reduce community impact: midterm report 2014-17. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2016 Conference Paper Thurston, W., Tory, K. J., Fawcett, R. J. B. & Kepert, J. D. Long-range spotting by bushfire plumes: The effects of plume dynamics and turbulence on firebrand trajectory. 5th International Fire Behaviour and Fuels Conference (International Association of Wildland Fire, 2016).
2016 Conference Paper Thurston, W., Tory, K. J., Fawcett, R. J. B. & Kepert, J. D. Large-eddy simulations of pyro-convection and its sensitivity to mositure. 5th International Fire Behaviour and Fuels Conference (International Association of Wildland Fire, 2016).
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 Ching, S., Fawcett, R. J. B., Thurston, W., Tory, K. J. & Kepert, J. D. Mesoscale features related to the Blue Mountains fires of 17 October 2013 revealed by high resolution Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) modelling. 5th International Fire Behaviour and Fuels Conference (International Association of Wildland Fire, 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 Tory, K. J., Peace, M. & Thurston, W. Pyrocumulonimbus forecasting: needs and issues. (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).
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...
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...
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...
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...
Will Thurston Conference Poster 2016
14 Aug 2016
Pyrocumulonimbus clouds have been linked to highly dangerous fire behaviour.
Thermodynamics of pyrocumulus formation
29 Jun 2017
In favourable atmospheric conditions, large hot fires can produce pyrocumulus cloud: deep convective columns...
Ensemble prediction of the East Coast Low of April 2015
29 Jun 2017
Between 20-23 April 2015 the eastern coast of Australia was affected by a low-pressure system, known as an...
A case study of South Australia's severe thunderstorm and tornado outbreak (28 September 2016)
19 Sep 2018
One of the most significant thunderstorm outbreaks recorded in South Australia impacted central and eastern...