ACCESS-Fire: coupled fire-atmosphere modelling
Coupled models are a class of fire prediction models that integrate a fire component with an atmospheric component, to examine how the energy released by a fire modifies the surrounding atmosphere. Coupled models can resolve complex interactions between the fire, topography and atmosphere, which subsequently manifest on fire behaviour. Results from simulations promote understanding of the driving processes in dynamic fire events. This can inform development of predictive tools that may be used to anticipate extreme fire behaviour and mitigate against the impacts of significant fires. Globally, several coupled models have been developed; mostly by meteorological institutions for application in a research capacity. They can be broadly separated as taking either physical or empirical modelling approaches. We are running ACCESS-Fire; an empirical coupled model. It links the research version of the Australian Community Climate and Earth-System Simulator (ACCESS) Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) to a set of empirically derived fire spread equations. In this presentation we will describe the coupled fire-atmosphere model ACCESS-Fire and report on progress on simulations of recent significant fire events. In Australia and overseas, the imperative for accurate, flexible and timely predictions for prescribed (fuel reduction) burns and bushfires will only increase. Incorporating complex, dynamical meteorological fields is a critical component in building fire prediction systems that can resolve some of the most destructive elements of fire behaviour. Although coupled fire-atmosphere models are currently limited in producing timely operational output due to computational requirements, these restrictions will diminish as technology capabilities continue to increase.