Research projects – round one

18 November 2021, updated 1 December and 16 December 2021

While the research priorities are being finalised, there are nine research projects that were agreed to as part of the Centre’s response to the Australian Government’s requirements for funding for the new Centre earlier in 2021.

These projects are at different stages of development. On 16 December 2021, Australian Research Data Commons was announced as a partner for the Research data management project. Read more here.

Expressions of Interest for research providers opened for the Understanding the resilience of lifelines for regional and remote communities project on 1 December and closed on 21 December 2021. Further Expressions of Interest will be released shortly. For more information, contact research@naturalhazards.com.au.

The projects in this initial round both extend research and support the utilisation of findings from the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC’s Black Summer research program, funded through the Australian Government in 2020. For the projects that are not extensions, these address more urgent research needs and issues raised by recommendations from the 2020 Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, the 2020 NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry and by stakeholders during the Centre’s research priority scoping workshops in August 2021.

Funding was approved for these round one projects by the Centre’s Board in October 2021, to ensure that natural hazards research activities can continue while the broader research priorities and program are developed.

An additional two rounds of research projects will follow in the first half of 2022, based on partner needs and the research priorities.

Round one projects

Translation of observed and modelled extreme bushfire behaviours to improve fire prediction and fireground safety

This utilisation will build on the CRC's Modelling fire weather interactions using the ACCESS-Fire model project led by Dr Mika Peace (Bureau of Meteorology). This research used advanced super-computer simulations that combine bushfire behaviour and meteorology to investigate why five bushfires from the 2019-20 fire season – Badja Forest (New South Wales), Green Valley Talmalmo/Corryong (NSW/Victoria), Kangaroo Island (South Australia), Stanthorpe (Queensland) and Yanchep (Western Australia) – were so extraordinary and challenging to firefighters. Due to the level of detail, data and computer power required it is currently not possible to model bushfire behaviour like this when bushfires are burning.

This research identified features of those bushfires, such as complex interactions between the fire and the atmosphere that produced extreme local fire behaviour, that provided new fire behaviour knowledge that can contribute to improved fire prediction and improved fireground safety. The complexity of these fire behaviours is such that it is likely to be many years before they can be effectively incorporated into operational fire simulators, however a pressing need is to translate the modelled extreme fire behaviours, and where feasible, to link them to signals in readily available information products – and present them as education and training materials that can be used for professional development by Fire Behaviour Analysts and to provide guidance to fire crews in the field by identifying signs and triggers that indicate the likelihood of extreme fire behaviours.

Key findings from the previous CRC research are available on the CRC website.

 

Understanding the design, communication and dissemination of predictive maps to the public

This utilisation will build on the CRC's Establishing and emerging uses of predictive services in Victoria project led by Dr Tim Neale (Deakin University) and Dr Graham Dwyer (University of Melbourne) and will be conducted in three phases. This research aims to optimise the design of fire spread prediction maps, initially designed for use by Fire Behaviour Analysts and incident controllers, but used publicly during the 2019-20 fire season by the NSW Rural Fire Service, ACT Emergency Service Agency and the Country Fire Authority to communicate where bushfires may spread to. This project will develop an understanding of the  requirements for ensuring fire spread prediction maps support public protective action decision-making during a bushfire.

  • Phase one will aim to better understand how fire agencies use fire spread prediction maps and public awareness of fire spread prediction maps and other information used to communicate the likely spread of a bushfire
  • Phase two will produce guidance to standardise the design, dissemination and communication of fire spread prediction maps within the Australian Warning System
  • Phase three will produce a framework for fire agencies to evaluate the success of fire spread prediction maps for communicating with the public and identify how they can be improved

Key findings from the previous CRC research are available on the CRC website.

 

Cultural land management (northern): connecting Indigenous people and the emergency management sector – effective partnerships

This utilisation will extend the pilot work undertaken in the northern Australia stream of the Cultural land management CRC project led by Ricky Archer (NAILSMA). It will further explore how to improve and empower Indigenous-led cultural fire and land management practices within current fire and land management frameworks to improve landscape management and community resilience. It will develop practical outcomes that can be built on in the future by strengthening the collective Indigenous understanding and position on engagement with emergency management in northern Australia. This will provide stronger and better-informed foundation for the future. An advisory group will guide the project with Indigenous representatives from Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Key findings from the previous CRC research are available on the CRC website.

 

Cultural land management (southern): cultural land stewardship research in south east Australia

Like its counterpart work in northern Australia, this utilisation will expand on the pilot study from the south east Australia stream of the Cultural land management CRC project led by Oliver Costello, Dr Katharine Haynes (University of Wollongong) and Dr Tim Neale (Deakin University). It will extend this work in south east Australia to further explore how to improve and empower Indigenous-led cultural fire and land management practices within current fire and land management frameworks to improve landscape management and community resilience. An advisory group with Indigenous representatives will guide an ongoing south east Cultural Land Stewardship Research Program to assist in the implementation of the recommendations and research areas identified by the previous research.

Key findings from the previous CRC research are available on the CRC website.

 

Community-led recovery: evidence, dimensions, and supports for Community Recovery Committees

This utilisation will test the self-assessment tool for Community Recovery Committees that was developed through the previous Community-led recovery CRC project led by Prof Lisa Gibbs (University of Melbourne). This validation and refinement will allow the self-assessment tool to be hosted digitally by end-user organisations for wider use, and will also measure the representativeness of Community Recovery Committees membership using a community network approach, to help inform future recovery policy. Additionally, the work will provide new guidance based on the research findings for recovery workers.

Key findings from the previous CRC research are available on the CRC website.

 

Identifying water sources for aerial firefighting 

This utilisation will translate the proof-of-concept developed by the initial research through the CRC's Identifying water sources using satellite imagery project led by Leo Lymburner (Geoscience Australia) to work towards a spatial product that can identify the locations of accessible waterbodies in near real time for use in aerial firefighting. This will contribute to the efficient use of aircraft used in aerial firefighting, contribute to aircraft selection and allocation based on access to water, and provide advice to air desks, air bases and air crews to assist them in their situational awareness and decision making.

 

Bushfire information database – scoping study

This research is a direct outcome to address the 2020 NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry recommendation 3 and has been requested by AFAC and the NSW Rural Fire Service. It will scope the requirements for the development of a National Bushfire Information Database, as well as research plan to achieve it. This database will capture national trends around fire intensity and locations, as well as mitigation activities.

While outside the scope of this study, when completed, such a database will allow policy decisions to be based on the best available data to enable trends and patterns to be identified, helping to understand the evolving risk landscape. The database could be used to better understand the effectiveness of mitigation and response approaches.

 

Understanding the resilience of lifelines for regional and remote communities - call for Expressions of Interest opened 1 Dec 2021, closed 11.59pm AEDT 21 Dec 2021. Applicants will be notified of the outcome by 25 January 2022. 

This exploratory project will undertake a review of the global literature on preservation of lifelines during and after disasters, and engage with relevant industry groups to develop a framework for understanding the resilience of lifelines. It will then use the framework to analyse a case study of lifeline resilience in an agreed regional area. This project will provide a foundation for active industry engagement and for identifying knowledge gaps that could be filled through additional research. The project will also address a number of recommendations from the 2020 Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements relating to essential services (chapter 9 of the Royal Commission final report).

View FAQs for this EOI.

Research data management

This project will address a number of recommendations from the 2020 Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements about the role of data to better support decision making. It will also address a key theme that emerged from the Centre’s research priority scoping workshops with prospective partners in August 2021 for better gathering, standardisation, access and use of research data nationally.

A component of the project will be supported by the Australian Research Data Commons through its Bushfire Data Challenges program. This partnership will establish a research data management initiative for sharing research data as the outcome of bushfire research undertaken through Centre projects, and where practical, from projects previously undertaken by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. This will include engagement and collaboration across all Australia Research Data Commons Bushfire Data Commons streams. It will establish a framework including policies, procedures and systems to be followed for all bushfire projects funded by the Centre. The data management strategy will be used by the Centre and available to the research community at large.

All Centre-funded or affiliated research projects will be expected to contribute to accessible, sustainable national research or operational data collections with ongoing agreed access, visibility to others, custodianship, governance and standardised data dictionaries.