Behaviour of Smoke Plumes and Hazes from Rural or Urban Fires

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The impact of smoke from prescribed and fuel reduction burns and wildfires on community health is an area of growing public interest. To minimise the impact of smoke on the community from planned burns a predictive model was sought by fire managers.

The project enhanced the Bureau of Meteorology’s operational high-resolution prediction models to provide forecast wind and temperature fields and the location and strength of the smoke plume. A self-paced, computer based, interactive training package was produced to aid in the training and use by fire managers.

The predictive model is now delivered online, and includes operational capabilities for users to interactively specify the ignition sites. This tool is routinely used by fire managers across southern Australia to plan prescribed burns and was also used during the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne to ensure smoke from autumn burns did not impact on the events.

This research, led by Dr Graham Mills and colleagues at the Bureau of Meteorology, assists the prediction of transport and dispersion of smoke from an urban or rural fire. It predicts concentrations of smoke particulates at locations affected by the smoke plume. Outcomes are helping fire management planning, by modelling smoke movement from potential sites of controlled burns.