Research leader

A/Prof Khalid Moinuddin Research Leader

Research team

Dr Duncan Sutherland
Dr Duncan Sutherland Research Team
Andrew Ooi
Prof Andrew Ooi Research Team
Prof Graham Thorpe
Prof Graham Thorpe Research Team
Prof Vasily Novozhilov Research Team
Dr Jimmy Philip Research Team
Dr Nazmul Khan Research Team

End User representatives

Brad Davies End-User
Andrew Stark
Andrew Stark End-User
Chris Wyborn End-User
Mike Wouters
Mike Wouters End-User
Paul Fletcher End-User
Laurence McCoy End-User
Jackson Parker End-User
Brian Levine End-User
Andrew Sturgess End-User

Student researchers

Rahul Wadhwani Student Reseacher
Jasmine Innocent Student Reseacher
Sesa Singha Roy Student Reseacher
Nitheesh George Student Reseacher
Amila Wickramasinghe Student Reseacher
Gavin Maund Student Reseacher

Bushfires occur on a scale that may be measured in kilometres. However, a challenge faced in developing next generation bushfire models is to capture the significant contributions that small scale phenomena make to the spread of bushfires.

This project is applying physics-based approaches to fire scenarios. It attempts to simulate fire with unprecedented detail and in the process obtain useful application tools for end-users. To address existing gaps in the mathematical and computational modelling of bushfire dynamics, an ideal fire scenario is subdivided into four parts.

Modelling wind speed through tree canopies

The rate of spread of a bushfire depends both on fuel types and the wind velocity profiles at ground and tree canopy levels. Ground cover, tree trunks, branches and leaves all affect the velocity profile. This particular aspect of the project aims to understand the velocity profile within the tree canopy in order to predict the wind reduction factor, which is present in some empirical models of fire spread. This work will improve the modelling of wind-driven fire behaviour as it enters, traverses and leaves a wooded area. The project will develop a set of user-friendly tools to calculate wind reduction factor (WRF) and improved wind field generating software. WRF will be computed as a function of existing forest parameters and prevailing weather conditions and will assist fire behaviour analysts to utilise WRF to predict the rate-of-spread and intensity of a fire.

Spread and distribution of firebrands

Embers and firebrands carried ahead of the main fire front often dominate the rate of spread of bushfires. The team is harnessing its expertise in aerodynamics to design, construct and operate a firebrand generator to accurately quantify how embers disperse. Along with wind speed, bushfire spread rates strongly depend on the physical and chemical properties of vegetative materials, such as grasses, wood and leaves. To prepare for experiments using the generator, the team invested in equipment and training for measuring properties such as thermal conductivity, specific heat, density, heat of pyrolysis, heat of combustion and reaction rate constants. These studies will assist in understanding the propensity of grasses and litter fuels to ignite from firebrands.

Improving computational methods

Physics-based models of bushfires must consider phenomena that occur on length scales that range from a fraction of a millimetre (e.g. flame thickness) up to several hundred metres (e.g. in terrain). The researchers have addressed this challenge by considering how the average of the small-scale phenomena would affect large-scale phenomena, such as the length and intensity of flames.

Bushfire-driven airflow over surface features

This aspect of the study applies the principles of engineering science to calculate bushfire-generated airflows above buildings, structures and forests. The aim is to quantify the behaviour of airflow and heat transfer in order to calculate how the wind profiles above the surface features of variable heights changes. The approach is to calculate details of the flow and heat transfer to produce highly accurate solutions, from which simple-to-use equations are extracted for operational use.

Year Type Citation
2019 Journal Article Khan, N., Sutherland, D., Wadhwani, R. & Moinuddin, K. Physics-Based Simulation of Heat Load on Structures for Improving Construction Standards for Bushfire Prone Areas. Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering 5, (2019).
2019 Report Khan, N., Sutherland, D., Philip, J., Ooi, A. & Moinuddin, K. A preliminary report on simulation of flows through canopies with varying atmospheric stability. (Bushfire and Natural hazards CRC, 2019).
2018 Conference Paper Sutherland, D., Wadhwani, R., Philip, J., Ooi, A. & Moinuddin, K. Simulations of the effect of canopy density profile on sub-canopy wind speed profiles. 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 Report Moinuddin, K., Roy, S. Singha, Sutherland, D. & Khan, N. Improvements to wind field generation in physics-based models to reduce spin-up time and to account for terrain, heated earth surface. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2018).
2018 Report Sutherland, D., Wadhwani, R., Philip, J., Ooi, A. & Moinuddin, K. Simulations of the effect of canopy density profile on sub-canopy wind speed profiles. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2018).
2018 Report Sutherland, D., Philip, J., Ooi, A. & Moinuddin, K. Literature review: modelling and simulation of flow over tree canopies. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2018).
2017 Conference Paper Sutherland, D., Moinuddin, K. & Ooi, A. Large-eddy simulation of neutral atmospheric surface layer flow over heterogeneous tree canopies. 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 Journal Article Wadhwani, R., Sutherland, D., Moinuddin, K. & Joseph, P. Kinetics of pyrolysis of litter materials from pine and eucalyptus forests. Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry (2017). doi:10.1007/s10973-017-6512-0
2017 Journal Article Wadhwani, R., Sutherland, D., Ooi, A., Moinuddin, K. & Thorpe, G. Verification of a Lagrangian particle model for short-range firebrand transport. Fire Safety Journal 91, 776-783 (2017).
2017 Report Moinuddin, K. & Sutherland, D. Numerical modelling of fires on forest floor and canopy fires. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
2016 Journal Article MacDonald, M., Chan, L., Chung, D., Hutchins, N. & Ooi, A. Turbulent flow over transitionally rough surfaces with varying roughness densities. Journal of Fluid Dynamics October 2016, (2016).
2016 Report Moinuddin, K., Sutherland, D. & Thorpe, G. Fire spread prediction across fuel types: Annual project report 2015-2016. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2016).
2015 Presentation Chung, D. et al. The spread of fires in landscapes. (2015).
2015 Report Thorpe, G. Fire spread prediction across fuel types: Annual project report 2014-2015. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2015).
2015 Report Thorpe, G. Fire Spread Across Fuel Types Annual Report 2014. (2015).
Date Title Download Key Topics
21 Mar 2014 Fire spread prediction across fuel types PDF icon 1.49 MB (1.49 MB) fire, modelling, prescribed burning
08 Sep 2014 Next generation models for predicting the behaviour of bushfires PDF icon 1.12 MB (1.12 MB) fire, modelling
27 Oct 2014 Next generation models for predicting the behaviour of bushfires fire, modelling
04 Dec 2014 Challenges in physics based bushfire modelling PDF icon 885.16 KB (885.16 KB) fire, fire severity, modelling
22 Mar 2016 Severe and High Impact Weather - cluster overview File 0 bytes (0 bytes) fire, modelling, scenario analysis
24 Oct 2016 Fire spread across fuel types PDF icon 3.44 MB (3.44 MB) fire impacts, fuel reduction, modelling
25 Oct 2016 Next generation fire modelling PDF icon 1.35 MB (1.35 MB) fire impacts, fire severity, fire weather
07 Jul 2017 Building bushfire predictive services capability PDF icon 9.97 MB (9.97 MB) fire, fire weather, modelling
07 Jul 2017 Building bushfire predictive services capability - Simon Heemstra File 0 bytes (0 bytes) fire, fire impacts, modelling
07 Sep 2017 Mapping the efficacy of an Australian fuel reduction burn using Fuels3D point clouds PDF icon 1.6 MB (1.6 MB) fuel reduction, modelling, prescribed burning
07 Sep 2017 Large-eddy simulation of neutral atmospheric surface layer flow over heterogeneous tree canopies PDF icon 885.3 KB (885.3 KB) fire, modelling, propagation
31 Oct 2017 Fire spread across fuel types PDF icon 1.1 MB (1.1 MB) fire, forecasting, modelling
18 Sep 2018 Simulations of the effect of canopy density profile on sub-canopy wind speed profiles PDF icon 1.08 MB (1.08 MB) fire, fuel reduction
23 Nov 2018 Fire spread prediction across fuel types by physics-based modelling PDF icon 2.02 MB (2.02 MB) fire, fire impacts, fuel reduction
27 Aug 2019 Simulation Of Heat Fluxes On A Structure From A Fire In An Idealised Shrubland PDF icon 495.46 KB (495.46 KB) decision making, fire
Next generation models for predicting the behaviour of bushfires: Challenges and prospects
25 Aug 2014
Bushfires occur on a scale that may be measured in kilometers.  However, a challenge faced in developing next...
Flow Prediction Through Canopies
18 Aug 2015
A simple model of flow through a tree canopy and comparison with large-eddy simulations.
Refinement and Validation of Firebrand Transport Sub Model for a Physics Based Bushfire Prediction Model: Design of  a Firebrand Generator
18 Aug 2015
Firebrands are burning pieces of, for example, bark, leaf litter, and twigs. Firebrands can be transported by...
Duncan Sutherland Conference Poster 2016
14 Aug 2016
Operational fire models rely on wind reduction factors to relate the standard meteorological measured or...
Simulated rate-of-spread of a grassfire propagating under a tree canopy
29 Jun 2017
Simulations of a fire entering, propagating under and leaving a tree canopy are conducted using FDS [1], a...
Physics-based modelling of fires transitioning from the forest floor to the canopy
19 Sep 2018
Can a physics-based model predict a transition from a surface fire to a crown fire?
27 Aug 2019
Is it feasible to model firebrand load on structure using a physics-based model in WUI?