Techniques for evaluating wildfire simulators via the simulation of historical fires using the AUSTRALIS simulator

Joel Kelso, Drew Mellor, Mary Murphy, George Milne

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    15 Citations (Scopus)
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    A methodology for validating fire spread simulation systems using historical fire data is presented. The key features of this methodology are (a) quantitative comparison between simulator-generated fire perimeters and fire perimeters from an independently produced fire reconstruction at multiple time points during the fire, and (b) extensive sensitivity analyses on simulation variables including simulation spatial resolution, weather, vegetation coverage and fire behaviour model selection to determine the effect of each simulation input on the simulation output. The methodology is demonstrated in a case study in which the ability of the AUSTRALIS high-performance wildfire simulator to replicate a large wildfire in Western Australia was examined. Simulation accuracy was found to be lower in extreme fire danger conditions and exhibited under-prediction of the head fire rate of spread. This was caused by inaccuracies in at least one of wind speed data, vegetation data or the fire behaviour model applied; however, the source of the inaccuracy could not be further diagnosed with the available data. The gathering of accurate data during and after active wildfires would facilitate more rigorous simulator and fire behaviour model validation studies as well as more accurate prediction of ‘live’ wildfires.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)784-797
    JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2015


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