We’re back this week with three stories:
- Predicting whether a firestorm will occur—researchers have created a model now being trialled by the NSW Rural Fire Service. Story plus an amazing photo.
- Half the world’s population relies on rice, but there’s a lot we don’t know about it—Macquarie Uni scientists working with researchers in Iran and Japan are calling for a global effort to find the thousands of ‘missing’ proteins.
- Have you seen a sawfish—alive, or on the wall of a pub? Your information can help these scientists help the sawfish. And we have HD footage of a sawfish sensing the electrical fields generated by a fish, then slicing and dicing it.
You can read more about each of these stories below, including details of scientists to interview.
The shape of a perfect storm: saving lives by predicting firestorms
Scientists available for interview – details and photos below.
Correction: an earlier version stated the tool is being formally trialed by the NSW Rural Fire SERVICE. It is currently in use, but formal trials ended in 2016.
Firestorms are a nightmare for emergency services and anyone in their path. They occur when a bushfire meets a ‘perfect storm’ of environmental conditions and creates a thunderstorm.
Dr Rachel Badlan and Associate Professor Jason Sharples are part of a team of experts from UNSW Canberra and ACT Emergency Services that has found the shape of a fire is an important factor in whether it will turn into a firestorm.
Fires that form expansive areas of active flame, rather than spreading as a relatively thin fire-front, are more likely to produce higher smoke plumes and turn into firestorms, the researchers found.
This finding is being used to underpin further development of a predictive model for firestorms. The model was trialed in the 2015 and 2016 fire seasons by the ACT Emergency Services Agency and the NSW Rural Fire Service, and now forms part of the national dialogue around extreme bushfire development.