VIDEO: This software crunches local data to predict bushfire behaviour in real-time

Spark has the potential to be used operationally for real-time fire spread modelling of bushfires. Image: CSIRO

Australian scientists have created software which can predict the severity and spread of dangerous bushfires in real-time.

The CSIRO’s Spark software will give fire fighters a more accurate view of fire behaviour, informing decisions to 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 software collates and analyses geospatial data such as vegetation types, topography and un-burnable elements such as roads and bodies of water, as well as air temperature, humidity, wind speed and wind direction.

Spark then uses this data to model the spread of a fire based on its location and environmental conditions.

“Spark has the potential to be used operationally for real-time fire spread modelling of bushfires,” says Mahesh Prakash, a computational modelling researcher.

“The next step is to work with the rural fire authorities and land management agencies to incorporate Spark into bushfire planning and management processes.”

The Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission estimated the cost of the 2009 Black Saturday disaster at $4.4 billion.

In southeast Australia the fire season is becoming longer, reducing the opportunities for hazard reduction burning.

Recent severe fires have been influenced by record hot, dry conditions.

A demonstration version of Spark can be download at the CSIRO website.

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