Close this search box.

We are creating some awesome events for you. Kindly bear with us.

Australia: Innovative Warning System for Extreme Bushfires

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

An innovative warning system for extreme bushfires, designed to support firefighting services, has been developed by Adjunct Professor Rick McRae at UNSW Canberra. The system concentrates on environmental conditions that can precipitate extreme bushfires in the southeastern region of Australia.

By analysing temperature and river-flow data, it can offer early warnings months before the fire season begins, allowing authorities to determine if the upcoming season is likely to exhibit conditions conducive to extreme fires.

Extreme bushfires are unique in that they establish strong connections with the atmosphere above, as opposed to other fires that are primarily driven by surface weather conditions. With the escalating impact of climate change, the frequency of extreme bushfires is expected to rise, presenting novel challenges for fire prediction and management. While all bushfires carry the potential for destruction and pose threats to lives, extreme bushfires behave unpredictably and can give rise to phenomena such as pyrocumulonimbus, which involves the interaction between the fire and the surrounding atmosphere, resulting in violent fire thunderstorms.

It is essential to note that the new warning system, currently in a trial phase, does not serve as a replacement for the existing fire danger rating system. Instead, it is envisioned as a complementary tool to aid fire authorities in identifying times when the most severe outcomes might occur.

As Professor McRae emphasises, the unprecedented challenges posed by the “Black Summer” fires underscore the need for new tools to prepare for and combat extreme bushfires, and he hopes that this innovative predictive model can be one of those tools.

Extreme bushfires encompass a range of characteristics, including “deep flaming,” where active burning occurs simultaneously across an extensive fire front. Unlike a typical bushfire, which might have a fire front tens of metres in depth, an extreme bushfire can cover hundreds of meters, or even kilometres, due to spot fires igniting over a vast area. Fires driven by the foehn effect, wherein hot and dry winds from higher terrain exacerbate the fire, were once rare but accounted for about half of the major events during the Black Summer. Furthermore, the incidence of fire thunderstorms has increased significantly in the past two decades.

To evaluate the conditions under which extreme bushfires could ignite, Professor McRae developed the Hierarchical Predictive Framework. This framework incorporates the latest research and practical knowledge on extreme bushfires and combines decades of operational experience in battling bushfires in the ACT with groundbreaking scientific advancements made by UNSW Canberra since the 2003 bushfires.

The model relies on four tiers of data to inform its predictions, including an assessment of temperature anomalies and river flow levels. The city of Canberra, chosen for its suitability, records temperature data. The “Canberra Dipole” is created by comparing the average temperature over the 12 months leading up to the bushfire season with data from the Bureau of Meteorology. Elevated values of the Canberra Dipole suggest the potential for synoptic weather patterns to generate trough systems in southeast Australia, exacerbating extreme fires.

Additionally, the model considers river flows from 17 locations across south-east Australia. While there are various methods to gauge the flammability of smaller fuel sources, such as twigs and fallen leaves, assessing soil dryness using river levels provides a more accurate picture of the flammability of larger fuels like logs.

To assess the model’s effectiveness, Professor McRae applied it retrospectively to more than 20 years of data from previous bushfires. The results were promising, demonstrating a high level of accuracy in predicting extreme bushfires during periods when specific temperature and river conditions were met.

Looking ahead, the model will be put to the test in upcoming fire seasons to further refine its accuracy. As it stands, this innovative warning system appears poised to become a highly effective tool to assist fire authorities during challenging fire seasons, ultimately enhancing the preparedness and response to extreme bushfires in south-eastern Australia.


Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.


CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.


Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit


SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.


HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 


IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.