Coarse woody fuel availability and consumption in Australian forest fires

After the passage of a fire front it is the larger, coarse woody fuels (>6mm diameter) that once ignited by fire, will greatly influence the post-frontal radiant heat resulting from the fire and the potential for next-day re-ignition. Once ignited, coarse woody fuels also have a direct impact on the level of soil heating, the potential for crown scorch as well as the carbon and smoke quantities emitted as a result of the fire.

Because of this, predicting fuel availability and the accurate consumption off coarse woody fuels is an important part of the planning and preparation processes for both prescribed burning and in wildfire control. It allows land and fire managers to plan for expected fire behaviour e.g. the time required before a burnt area may be safely worked on or used as refuge, and assessment of the potential various impacts of the fire on natural resources and nearby properties e.g. smoke emissions.

This research is focused on the determination of rate and proportion of coarse woody fuel consumed by flaming and smouldering combustion as functions of fire intensity, Fire Danger Index (FDI), fuel type and fuel condition in Australian forests. The research project will also include testing current empirical and physical based models of woody fuel consumption and the development of a model suitable for Australian forest types.