Predicting fire from dry lightning

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Fire Note 84: Fires caused by lightning are responsible for a large proportion of the area burnt by bushfires throughout Australia and the world.

Bushfire CRC researcher Dr Andrew Dowdy and project leader Graham Mills – both with the Bureau of Meteorology – tracked lightning data to identify when and how often fires were likely to follow.

Their research shows that the Bureau's real-time computer models can forecast   –  with typical lead times of 24 to 48 hours – locations and times where dry lightning (lightning not accompanied by rain) is more likely, and where ignitions from that lightning are more likely to be sustained.

Such forecasts would potentially enable fire services and land management agencies to reduce their response time to these ignitions, and thus reduce the damage resulting from these fires.

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