The Australian Flammability Monitoring System: providing a clear picture of landscape dryness
Photo Credit: Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
Understanding and predicting fire danger and behaviour is a priority for fire agencies, land managers and sometimes businesses and residents. This is an enormous scientific challenge given the complexity of bushfires, with fire behaviour and severity driven by complicated interactions involving vegetation, topography and weather conditions.
The Australian Flammability Monitoring System (AFMS) is a website that provides a clear picture of vegetation and soil dryness across the Australian landscape. It is the first national-scale, pre-operational fuel and soil moisture content and flammability monitoring system in Australia, delivering accurate spatial information about live fuel and soil moisture in near-real time.
The AFMS is being used by several key Australian emergency services and land management agencies to make informed decision about where a fire may ignite and spread, and what areas should be prioritised when sending resources and equipment to fight fires. It has also been used in Europe, South Africa, Argentina, the United States and China, and has been implemented in the emissions assessment and smoke-dispersion module of the European Commission’s Forest Fire Information System.
The AFMS was developed by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC with researchers at the Australian National University. Researchers, led by Associate Professor Marta Yebra, investigated different methods of mapping flammability and worked with industry partners to ensure that the AFMS provided a comprehensive and accurate characterisation of flammability.