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Fire behaviour in south-western Australian shrublands: Evaluating the influence of fuel age and fire weather

Fontaine, J.B.ORCID: 0000-0002-6515-7864, Westcott, V.C., Enright, N.J.ORCID: 0000-0003-2979-4505, Lade, J.C. and Miller, B.P. (2012) Fire behaviour in south-western Australian shrublands: Evaluating the influence of fuel age and fire weather. International Journal of Wildland Fire, 21 (4). pp. 385-395.

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Fuel age (time since last fire) is often used to approximate fire hazard and informs decisions on placement of shrubland management burns worldwide. However, uncertainty remains concerning the relative importance of fuel age and weather conditions as predictors of fire hazard and behaviour. Using data from 35 experimental burns across three types of shrublands in Western Australia, we evaluated importance of fuel age and fire weather on probability of fire propagation (hazard) and four metrics of fire behaviour (rate of spread, fireline intensity, residence time, surface temperature) under moderate to high fire danger weather conditions. We found significant support for a threshold effect of fuel age for fire propagation but limited evidence for an effect of fuel age or fire weather on rates of spread or fireline intensity, although surface heating and heating duration were significantly related to fuel age and shrubland type. Further analysis suggested that dead fuel mass and accumulation rate rather than live fuels were responsible for this relationship. Using BEHAVE, predicted spread rates and intensities were consistently lower than observed values, suggesting further refinement is needed in modelling shrubland fire behaviour. These data provide important insight into fire behaviour in globally significant, fire-adapted shrublands, informing fire management and relationships between fire frequency and fire intensity.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Environmental Science
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: © IAWF 2012
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