Project Vesta is providing an insight into bushfire behaviour.
Understanding bushfire behaviour
CSIRO led research is leading to a better understanding of bushfire behaviour, which is helping in the prediction of high intensity fire behaviour in dry eucalypt forest.
1 December 2005 | Updated 14 October 2011
Project Vesta is a major multi-organisation project investigating high intensity fire behaviour in dry eucalypt forests, which are found in many parts of Australia.
This has been the most ambitious integrated research undertaken anywhere in the world on fire behaviour and management.
This project is exploring the effect of fuel load and structure on fire behaviour and provides an insight into the long term effects of prescribed burning on wildfire behaviour.
The results of Project Vesta are being used to revise the existing forest fire danger rating system.
Full analysis of data from this study is continuing; however, there have been a number of initial results.
Traditional tables of forest fire behaviour, which have been in use for guiding fire management decisions since the mid 1960, were found to under-predict the potential rate of fire spread in dry forests at higher wind speeds by a factor of up to three-fold.
Project Vesta is the most ambitious, integrated research undertaken anywhere in the world on fire behaviour and management.
Researchers also found that lines of fire longer than 100 metres, perpendicular to the prevailing wind, reach their potential rate of spread immediately. This finding has resulted in the creation of the Deadman Zone fact sheet and has been incorporated into national training programs.
A new relationship between the wind speed and the rate of fire spread has been described. This will provide a more reliable of fire behaviour experienced during extreme weather conditions.
Researchers have also identified models for identifying fire behaviour according to fuel type and structure, and identifying errors in predicted and actual fire spread in various wind conditions.
These results are currently being incorporated in a new Bushfire Prediction model, which will be used by fire management agencies.
This project is being led by CSIRO, in collaboration with the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM), and land management agencies and fire authorities in other states.
Read more about Bushfires.