Modelling bushfires

A number of computer models have been developed to help predict the spread and shape of fires across the landscape. The most widely used of these is Phoenix Rapidfire, developed by the Bushfire CRC, the University of Melbourne and various fire agencies. Western Australian authorities use Aurora, a model developed by the University of Western Australia, Landgate and the Bushfire CRC, and CSIRO has developed a new model called Spark.

In this video, Dr Mahesh Prakash from CSIRO explains Spark, a software framework that combines bushfire behaviour knowledge with state-of-the-art simulation science. Spark will give firefighting agencies a more accurate view of fire behaviour, informing decisions that could minimise property damage and save lives.

Video source: CSIRO / YouTube.

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TITLE: Spark: A better way to predict the spread of bushfires

DR MAHESH PRAKASH, Group Leader, Computational Modelling and Simulation, CSIRO: Spark is a bushfire spread modelling capability which is being developed by CSIRO. It provides emergency management agencies a much better ability to predict fires, and save lives and property.

Spark is able to provide information around the rate at which the fire spreads, the direction in which it spreads, as well as the locations that the fire actually affects. Your inputs are essentially your weather data, mainly your wind data; the location where the fire has been started; the data about vegetation and the fuel type; as well as the terrain. And once you have all these inputs, you can run your fire predictions for any given location and it runs better than real time. So you can actually make your decisions around where to actually target the firefighting efforts. 

It can also be used by researchers to actually try and understand different types of fire models.

Now that Spark’s actually publicly available, and it’s downloadable from our website, emergency agencies can actually have a firsthand look at how it performs. And Spark's actually able to be integrated with their existing systems. You also have the ability to incorporate future changes, which might also include climate change effects into any model that gets developed. 

People can be better prepared against potential bushfire risks, both from a saving lives perspective as well as a saving property perspective. So it’s a very powerful tool for emergency management agencies.

Bushfires 1: Understanding bushfires

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