A comprehensive, nationally consistent climatology of fire weather parameters

The weather, at various time scales, is a major factor influencing the risk from bushfires and grassfires. As our scientific understanding develops, a growing number of meteorological parameters have been recognised as contributing to this influence. This paper reports on progress to date in a project to develop a comprehensive and nationally consistent climatology of these parameters, as part of the Fire Danger Rating Project.

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

The set of parameters to be analysed is 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”. Only a small sample is shown here.

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.

This conference paper is a report on progress to date. A full report will be prepared as part of the completion of the project.

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