Andrew Stark

Andrew Stark

Andrew Stark

Lead end user

During a disaster responsibility for animals lies with the owner. However, owners are often ill-prepared for themselves and their animals, which can lead to people risking their lives by failing to evacuate or evacuating too late, which endangers both human and animal lives. This recognition that animals need to be considered and integrated into emergency management and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery poses additional challenges for traditional responding. Extra preparation, knowledge and skills are required to ensure the safety of animals, their owners, and responders.

In this context, animal emergency management has emerged as a relatively new area, with a more complex and often less experienced set of stakeholders requiring integration and coordination.

This study addressed the lack of Australian research by identifying challenges for end-users and studying the disaster experiences of animal owners and responders. Subsequent publications have led to an extended knowledge base, and identification of best practice approaches.

Research team:
This research tested two established reliable physics-based models—the Fire Dynamics Simulator and FIRESTAR3D—to simulate bushfire scenarios in three broad areas: sub-canopy wind flow, firebrand transport, and propagation of grass and forest fires. The team has made significant inroads into providing usable outputs as well as understanding various aspects of bushfire behaviour. This project was established to create a capability and capacity in Australia to conduct research and understand physical-based wildfire modelling approaches. There are several international groups developing these models, and it is imperative that Australia can interact and work alongside these researchers to translate the findings to the Australian context.
This 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).
Research team:
The project aimed to improve understanding of fire and atmosphere interactions and feedback processes through running the coupled fire-atmosphere model ACCESS-Fire. ACCESS-Fire is an important research tool and has the potential to be a critical operational tool. It will assist in informing fire management decisions as increasingly hazardous scenarios are faced in a changing climate. Further deliverables from the project include the preparation of meteorological and simulation case studies of significant fire events as publications, installation and testing of the ACCESS-Fire coupled model on the National Computing Infrastructure; and preparation of training material to support operational implementation of research findings. The project has demonstrably achieved the objective of building and sharing national capability in fire research and has provided fire and meteorology expertise during high impact events in support of end-users inside their operational centres.

Fire behaviour in dry eucalypt forests in Australia (and in many other vegetation types to a lesser extent) is characterised by the occurrence of spotfires—new fires ignited by the transport of burning debris such as bark ahead of an existing fire. Under most burning conditions, spotfires play little role in the overall propagation of a fire, except where spread is impeded by breaks in fuel or topography and spotfires allow these impediments to be overcome. However, under conditions of severe bushfire behaviour spotfire occurrence can be so prevalent that spotting becomes the dominant propagation mechanism and the fire spreads as a cascade of spotfires forming a ‘pseudo’ front. It has long been recognised that the presence of multiple individual fires affects the behaviour and spread of all fires present. The converging of separate individual fires into larger fires is called coalescence and can lead to rapid increases in fire intensity and spread rate, leading to the phenomenon of a ‘fire storm’. This coalescence effect is frequently used in prescribed burning, with multiple point ignitions used to rapidly burn out large areas.

The team has demonstrated the performance advantages of fire propagation models incorporating curvature dependence when applied to simple wind-driven fires at both laboratory and field scales. The research has also produced fundamental insights into how the shape of the fire line affects the dynamic behaviour of the fire as a whole. Coupled fire-atmosphere modelling was used to investigate how fire-induced air movements (pyroconvection) can produce significantly enhanced rates of spread for certain fire shapes.

This project investigated the limits and potentials of integrated urban planning for natural hazard mitigation in Australia, and the ways in which key planning processes for risk-based decision making in the built environment can be improved. In doing so, the research team identified many gaps in the ways urban planning and natural hazard risk management are integrated together. Learnings from this project were captured in a set of scalable and adaptable diagnostic tools that are part of critical frameworks for best practice in integrating urban planning and natural hazard mitigation in Australia. These diagnostic tools allow assessment of integration and risk management across urban planning and emergency management systems and processes.
The project demonstrated a pilot capability to deliver wind and rain impact forecasts for residential housing from an ensemble of weather prediction models runs. The project focused on the wind and rainfall impact from the 20-22 April 2015 East Coast Low in New South Wales. Through the utilisation of Geoscience Australia’s HazImp software, the research team developed and tested a workflow that integrated the numerical weather forecasts, vulnerability relationships and exposure data at the community level. The project set up the end-to-end workflow from wind and rain hazard to spatial impact. These spatial impact outputs were delivered into the Visual Weather system at the Bureau of Meteorology, foreshadowing the possibility of easily achievable future visualisation to operational meteorologists.

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