A Comprehensive, Nationally-Consistent Climatology of Fire Weather Parameters

Presentation at Research Forum of the 2012 Bushfire CRC and AFAC Annual Conference.

The weather, at various time scales, is a major factor influencing the bushfire risk. As our scientific understanding develops, a steadily growing number of meteorological parameters have been recognised as contributing to this influence. This talk will report on a project to develop a comprehensive and nationally consistent climatology of these parameters, as part of the Fire Danger Rating Project.

National consistency will be achieved by the use of high-quality reanalysis data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting Interim Reanalysis Project, which avoids the problem of gaps, both spatial and temporal, in the observation coverage. These data, available 3-hourly on a 75-km grid world-wide, also avoid the problem of site-based observations that may be representative of a geographically small area.

The set of parameters to be analysed in wide, and ranges from traditional fire weather indices, the ingredients that go into them, through to indications of vertical stability, wind change strength, and the outcomes of recent research such as the importance of “dry slots”.

As well as providing a useful dataset in its own right, the climatology will underpin future work within the Fire Danger Rating Project by providing both a baseline for that research, and a computational infrastructure to calculate the weather component of proposed experimental indices.

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