Detecting fire plumes with mobile radar | Natural Hazards Research Australia

Detecting fire plumes with mobile radar

Photo: Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions WA
Project type

Core research

Project status

In progress

This project will:

  • test the capability of mobile radar to detect fire plumes during prescribed burns and possibly bushfires in Western Australia
  • develop an unrestricted data set to be managed in the Natural Hazards Research Australia's data catalogue¬†
  • facilitate the strengthening of researcher and practitioner networks through cross-agency and cross-jurisdiction collaboration.

A pilot experiment was undertaken in southwest Western Australia during the 2022 autumn burn season to test the capability of the radar to detect fire plumes. Following the pilot's success, there is a strong appetite for a follow-up program during the 2022-23 spring and early summer burn season. Experiments during this period will target environmental burns of Karri forests.

This follow up program was undertaken in November 2022 near Collie in Western Australia. Learn more in the video below.

Project details

Major meteorological hazards associated with bushfires include wind shifts, fire brand transport leading to spotting and the development of pyrocumulonimbus linked to erratic and extreme fire behaviour. These are potentially detectable with modern dual polarisation weather radar. The aim of this project is to provide a proof of concept for this capability, building on previous work by the University of Queensland. 

A pilot experiment was undertaken in southwest Western Australia during the 2022 autumn burn season to test the capability of the radar to detect fire plumes. Following the pilot's success, there is a strong appetite for a follow-up program during the 2022-23 spring and early summer burn season. Experiments during this period will target environmental burns of Karri forests.