Bushfire response bolstered with new lab

Friday 18 Mar 2022

In the face of more extreme events, Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, has unveiled its new world-class bushfire research facility to better understand how bushfires behave, what conditions make them worse, and the best ways to respond.

Constructed at a cost of AU$2.1 million, the new National Bushfire Behaviour Research Laboratory is located at CSIRO Black Mountain Canberra. The new laboratory will boost the power of CSIRO’s Pyrotron and Vertical Wind Tunnel, two unique instruments designed to allow the detailed investigation of the physics of bushfires.

CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall said as bushfires become more frequent and severe, the national science agency is investing in cutting-edge research to protect Australians and build on CSIRO’s more than seventy years of collaborative research in the field.

“Bushfires are one of Australia’s greatest challenges, and it will take the best science, facilities and partnerships across industry, government and research to help to protect our communities, front-line responders, and environment,” Dr Marshall said.

“During the Black Summer fires of 2019 and 2020, CSIRO’s scientists worked side by side with teams on the ground – as they have been for nearly every major fire event since 1950s – to better prepare for and manage bushfire seasons that are getting hotter, drier and longer.

“Challenges this complex cannot be solved by one organisation alone, and we look forward to bringing many partners together at this new National Lab – as we do at all our National Labs facilities across the country – to continue building the resilience and strength of our communities and economy.”

CSIRO bushfire behaviour expert Dr Andrew Sullivan said the Pyrotron and Vertical Wind Tunnel were purpose-built scientific apparatus that could replicate aspects of real-life bushfires under a controlled range of conditions without the risks, safety concerns and access issues that a live bushfire presented to firefighters.

“The new laboratory will help us better understand fundamental bushfire behaviour dynamics, and the factors and interactions that influence the behaviour of bushfires, to support their management by firefighters” Dr Sullivan said.

“The apparatus in the new laboratory can also help researchers and fire management agencies to better understand and manage fires under future climate conditions.”

More information on the Pyrotron and VWT can be found here

Source: CSIRO

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