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Australia's Fire Season Ends, Researchers Look to the Next One


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Members of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service extinguishing a fire north of Bredbo, Australia, in February.

Scientists and officials are working together to develop fire-prediction technologies that will enable firefighters to work faster and more safely when Australia's next season begins in just a few months.

Credit: Sean Davey/EPA/Shutterstock

The effectiveness of many technologies being developed to cope with wildfires in Australia hinges on the ability to predict how fuel types like eucalyptus trees will impact a given fire.

The Phoenix RapidFire software models this based on data provided by regional teams close to the fires.

Simon Heemstra of the New South Wales Fire Service noted that analysts are able to incorporate the uncertainty inherent in fire behavior, something “the computer just isn't able to grasp.”

Phoenix excels in analyzing several fires at once and determining which poses the greatest risk.

Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) has developed software called Spark to improve upon Phoenix by using unique equations for different fuel types.

From The New York Times
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