The Australis Wildfire Simulator

Australis Wildfire Simulator

Australis (pictured right) is an interactive wildfire simulator that forecasts the progression of wildfire across a landscape and projects it as a series of fire perimeters, called isochrons, onto a map. It can be used as:

  • A predictive aid for wildfire incident management
  • A risk-analysis utility to determine outcomes to hypothetical "what-if" scenarios
  • A cost-effective complement to conducting experiments with real fires

The tool is a core component of Aurora, a national wildfire prediction, detection, simulation and early warning system, and is being used as a platform to model wildfire behaviour under severe fire conditions with funding from an ARC linkage grant.

How Australis works: Discrete event simulation

Cell grid

At the core of Australis is a discrete event simulator. It works like this: first the landscape is partitioned into collection of cells. Each cell represents an area within the landscape and contains information about the fuel and topography of the area. Now the simulation begins: a cell (or a bunch of cells) is set alight. When a cell ignites and conditions are favourable for fire, some of the cell's neighbouring cells (the cells in the downwind direction) will also catch alight. When a neighbouring cell catches alight, it does so after a delay that represents the time taken for the fire to travel the distance between the two cells. In this way the fire spreads from one cell to another, simulating wildfire spreading across a landscape. Each ignition is treated as an "event", and can trigger other ignition events after a suitable propagation delay. The simulator uses empirically derived predictive fire spread rate models to estimate the propagation delay.

Ongoing development of AUSTRALIS is being funded by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Western Australia.

See the following presentation - The AUSTRALIS Wildfire Simulator - for more information.

The AUSTRALIS Wildfire Simulator - PowerPoint

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The AUSTRALIS Wildfire Simulator - pdf format

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