Forecasting live fuel moisture content, the on/off switch for forest fire

Research group


326.639 €

Funding body

Australian Research Council

Type of action

Project reference





Dry forest fuels are a precursor of large bushfires. This research aims to develop, for the first time, a model to reliably forecast the moisture content of live fuels (e.g. the foliage and fine branches of shrubs and trees). This will be achieved by combining (I) satellite-derived estimates of live fuel moisture content, (II) forecasts of soil moisture, and (III) plant physiological responses to soil dryness. Forecasts of live fuel moisture content will deliver an early warning system of the risk of bushfires. These forecasts will also facilitate improved planning of prescribed burns: if fuels are too dry there is a risk of burns escaping, conversely, if fuels are too wet there is a risk that burns will fail to meet objectives.