Australia — A new software tool that can predict the severity and spread of destructive bushfires has been released by CSIRO.
Known as Spark, the software will give fire-fighting agencies a more accurate view of fire behaviour, informing decisions that could minimise property damage and save lives.
Spark takes current knowledge of fire behaviour and combines it with simulation science to predict the future location of bushfires and the spread of those already burning.
The framework uses geospatial data, such as vegetation types, topography and un-burnable elements such as roads and bodies of water, as well as weather data such as air temperature, humidity, wind speed and wind direction. Spark then uses this data to model the spread of a fire based on its specific location and current environmental conditions.
Dr Mahesh Prakash, one of CSIROs computational modelling researchers, described the software as a highly flexible simulation environment. Spark has the potential to be used operationally for real-time fire spread modelling of bushfires, he said.
This information is invaluable for emergency management decision makers for predicting risk, deploying firefighting resources or planning evacuation routes.
The next step is to work with the rural fire authorities and land management agencies to incorporate Spark into bushfire planning and management processes.
Spark has been developed as an open framework for fire prediction and analysis, making it simple for fire agencies to incorporate the software into their existing systems and also more easily allow the fire science community to collaborate and keep adding new fire behaviour knowledge.