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Vinodkumar,Bureau of Meteorology | Vinodkumar,Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Center | Dharssi I.,Bureau of Meteorology | Bally J.,Bureau of Meteorology | And 3 more authors.
Water Resources Research | Year: 2017

The McArthur Forest Fire Danger Index used in Australia for operational fire warnings has a component representing fuel availability called the Drought Factor (DF). The DF is partly based on soil moisture deficit, calculated as either the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) or Mount's Soil Dryness Index (MSDI). The KBDI and MSDI are simplified water balance models driven by observation based daily rainfall and temperature. In this work, gridded KBDI and MSDI analyses are computed at a horizontal resolution of 5 km and are verified against in-situ soil moisture observations. Also verified is another simple model called the Antecedent Precipitation Index (API). Soil moisture analyses from the Australian Community Climate and Earth System Simulator (ACCESS) global Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) system as well as remotely sensed soil wetness retrievals from the Advanced Scatterometer (ASCAT) are also verified. The verification shows that the NWP soil wetness analyses have greater skill and smaller biases than the KBDI, MSDI and API analyses. This is despite the NWP system having a coarse horizontal resolution and not using observed precipitation. The average temporal correlations (root mean square difference) between cosmic ray soil moisture monitoring facility observations and modeled or remotely sensed soil wetness are 0.82 (0.15 ±0.02), 0.66 (0.33 ±0.07), 0.77 (0.20 ±0.03), 0.74 (0.22 ±0.03) and 0.83 (0.18 ±0.04) for NWP, KBDI, MSDI, API and ASCAT. The results from this study suggests that analyses of soil moisture can be greatly improved by using physically based land surface models, remote sensing measurements and data assimilation. © 2017. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


Oehlers D.J.,University of Adelaide | Visintin P.,University of Adelaide | Visintin P.,Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Center | Lucas W.,University of Adelaide | Lucas W.,Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Center
Journal of Composites for Construction | Year: 2016

Reinforced concrete (RC) beams and slabs are frequently strengthened or stiffened in flexure by adhesively bonding fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) plates to their surfaces using a strain-based moment-curvature design technique. This design technique is generally based on the intermediate crack (IC) debonding strain of the FRP reinforcement, that is, on the start of IC debonding; from this analysis it is often deduced that FRP plating is ineffective at the ultimate limit state because FRP debonding occurs before yield of the steel reinforcement. In this paper, it is shown that the strain-based approach is generally a lower bound at the ultimate limit state. Instead, a displacement-based approach is described that shows that FRP plated beams can be designed to achieve a higher strength than that of the RC beam by itself no matter when IC debonding first occurs. The mechanics of the analysis approach developed here treat the FRP debonded plate as a FRP prestressing tendon with a force equal to the IC debonding force. Consequently all FRP plated beams have the potential to achieve strengths greater than that of the unplated beam specifically when designed for ductility, which makes the system much more effective at the ultimate limit state. This paper describes, in a form suitable for the development of numerical solutions, the fundamental mechanics that control local IC debonding at a section or segment as well as global IC debonding along a member. It is shown how FRP plates and their extent of plating can be chosen through mechanics to increase the strength and if necessary the ductility of a member as well as allowing for both stable and unstable debonding. © 2015 American Society of Civil Engineers.


Haworth B.,University of Sydney | Haworth B.,Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Center | Whittaker J.,Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Center | Whittaker J.,University of Wollongong | Bruce E.,University of Sydney
Applied Geography | Year: 2016

The increased ease for individuals to create, share and map geographic information combined with the need for timely, relevant and diverse information has resulted in a new disaster management context. Volunteered geographic information (VGI), or geographic information voluntarily created by private citizens enabled through technologies like social media and web-based mapping, has changed the ways people create and use information for crisis events. Research has focussed on disaster response while largely ignoring prevention and preparedness. Preparing for disasters can reduce negative impacts on life and property, but despite strategies to educate communities, preparation remains low. This study assesses the application and value of VGI in bushfire risk reduction through a participatory mapping approach. It examines VGI as a social practice and not simply a data source by considering the user experience of contributing VGI and the potential for these activities to increase community connectedness for building disaster resilience. Participatory mapping workshops were held in bushfire-risk communities in Tasmania. Workshop activities included a paper-mapping exercise and web-based digital mapping. Survey results from 31 participants at three workshops indicated the process of mapping and contributing local information for bushfire preparation with other community members can contribute to increased social connectedness, understanding of local bushfire risk, and engagement in risk reduction. Local knowledge exchange was seen as valuable, but the social dimension appeared even more engaging than the specific information shared. Participants reported collaborative maps as effective for collating and sharing community bushfire information with a preference for digital mapping. Some limitations of online sharing of information were also reported by participants, however, including potential issues of privacy, data quality and source trustworthiness. Further work is needed to extrapolate findings from the study sample to the broader population. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd


Coates L.,Macquarie University | Coates L.,Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Center | Haynes K.,Macquarie University | Haynes K.,Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Center | And 6 more authors.
Environmental Science and Policy | Year: 2014

Despite their relative importance in terms of human mortality, extreme heat events have not attracted the same level of study compared with other natural hazards in regards to vulnerability and implications for emergency management and policy change. Definitional confusion and inconsistencies in defining heat related deaths over time have made it difficult to determine an absolute death toll. Notwithstanding these issues, this study employs PerilAUS - Risk Frontiers' database of natural hazard event impacts - in combination with official sources in an attempt to provide a lower-bound estimate of heat-associated deaths in Australia since European settlement. From 1844 to 2010, extreme heat events have been responsible for at least 5332 fatalities in Australia and, since 1900, 4555: more than the combined total of deaths from all other natural hazards. Over 30% of those deaths occurred in just nine events. Both deaths and death rates (per unit of population) fluctuate widely but show an overall decrease with time. The male to female death-rate ratio has fluctuated and approaches but does not reach equality in more recent times. In line with other studies, seniors have been the most vulnerable age group overall, with infants also over-represented. Policy implications in view of a warming climate and an ageing population are discussed. © 2014 The Authors.


McLennan J.,La Trobe University | Evans L.,La Trobe University | Cowlishaw S.,University of Bristol | Pamment L.,La Trobe University | Wright L.,Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Center
Journal of Traumatic Stress | Year: 2016

Numerous studies show that those involved in disaster response may develop posttraumatic stress disorder or experience secondary traumatic stress (STS). There are few reports about the experiences of postdisaster field research interviewers. We report findings from a follow-up study of researchers who conducted postwildfire field research interviews with residents affected by 5 severe wildfire events in Australia over the period 2009-2014. There were 33 postwildfire research interviewers who reported their experiences, and 18 of them (54.5%) described distressing interviews involving deaths, surviving severe threats to life, and destruction of houses. There were 27 (81.6%) who reported having experienced 1 or more STS symptoms on a 20-item measure. Those who conducted interviews following a multifatality wildfire event reported higher levels of STS symptoms compared with researchers whose interviews followed nonfatal wildfires. There were 21 (63.6%) researchers who reported that their interviewing experiences had positive effects on their lives. This indicates that the researcher role of gathering information so that future wildfire risk could be mitigated may have served a protective function. © 2016 International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.


Pattiaratchi C.B.,University of Western Australia | Pattiaratchi C.B.,Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Center | Wijeratne E.M.S.,University of Western Australia | Wijeratne E.M.S.,Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Center
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences | Year: 2015

Meteotsunamis are generated by meteorological events, particularly moving pressure disturbances due to squalls, thunderstorms, frontal passages and atmospheric gravity waves. Relatively small initial sea-level perturbations, of the order of a few centimetres, can increase significantly through multiresonant phenomena to create destructive events through the superposition of different factors. The global occurrence of meteotsunamis and the different resonance phenomena leading to amplification of meteotsunamis are reviewed. Results from idealized numerical modelling and field measurements from southwest Australia are presented to highlight the relative importance of the different processes. It is shown that the main influence that leads to amplification of the initial disturbance is due to wave shoaling and topographic resonance. Although meteotsunamis are not catastrophic to the extent of major seismically induced basin-scale events, the temporal and spatial occurrence of meteotsunamis are higher than those of seismic tsunamis as the atmospheric disturbances responsible for the generation of meteotsunamis are more common. High-energy events occur only for very specific combinations of resonant effects. The rareness of such combinations is perhaps the main reason why destructive meteotsunamis are exceptional and observed only at a limited number of sites globally. Copyright © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society.


Neale T.,University of Western Sydney | Neale T.,Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Center
Environment and Planning A | Year: 2016

Wildfire is a global environmental ‘problem’ with significant socioeconomic and socionatural impacts that does not lend itself to simple technical fixes (Gill et al., 2013: 439). In Australia, a country with a pronounced history of disastrous landscape fires, these impacts are expected to increase as the peri-urban population continues to grow and the climate continues to change. This paper draws upon the burgeoning literature on anticipatory regimes to analyse an in-depth case study of a government pilot in the highly fire-prone State of Victoria, where practitioners have utilised a simulation model to measure and intervene in the distribution of wildfire risk. The pilot presents the ‘calculative collective device’ (Callon and Muniesa, 2005) of wildfire management at a moment of what I label ‘calculative rearticulation’, wherein figurations of the future are rebooted, reconstructed or recalibrated; such moments, I suggest, can reorient the institutionally conservative spaces – such as environmental or risk management – providing opportunities for practitioners and others to interrogate the existing distribution of hazards and anticipatory interventions. Through such opportunities ‘hazardous’ more-than-human landscapes can be imagined otherwise. © 2016, © The Author(s) 2016.


Haworth B.,University of Sydney | Haworth B.,Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Center | Bruce E.,University of Sydney
Geography Compass | Year: 2015

The immediacy of locational information requirements and importance of data currency for natural disaster events highlights the value of volunteered geographic information (VGI) in all stages of disaster management, including prevention, preparation, response, and recovery. The practice of private citizens generating online geospatial data presents new opportunities for the creation and dissemination of disaster-related geographic data from a dense network of intelligent observers. VGI technologies enable rapid sharing of diverse geographic information for disaster management at a fraction of the resource costs associated with traditional data collection and dissemination, but they also present new challenges. These include a lack of data quality assurance and issues surrounding data management, liability, security, and the digital divide. There is a growing need for researchers to explore and understand the implications of these data and data practices for disaster management. In this article, we review the current state of knowledge in this emerging field and present recommendations for future research. Significantly, we note further research is warranted in the pre-event phases of disaster management, where VGI may present an opportunity to connect and engage individuals in disaster preparation and strengthen community resilience to potential disaster events. Our investigation of VGI for disaster management provides broader insight into key challenges and impacts of VGI on geospatial data practices and the wider field of geographical science. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Haworth B.,University of Sydney | Haworth B.,Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Center
Computers, Environment and Urban Systems | Year: 2016

Volunteered geographic information (VGI) refers to the widespread creation and sharing of geographic information by private citizens, often through platforms such as online mapping tools, social media, and smartphone applications. VGI has shifted the ways information is created, shared, used and experienced, with important implications for applications of geospatial data, including emergency management. Detailed interviews with 13 emergency management professionals from eight organisations across five Australian states provided insights into the impacts of VGI on official emergency management. Perceived opportunities presented by VGI included improved communication, acquisition of diverse local information, and increased community engagement in disaster management. Identified challenges included the digital divide, data management, misinformation, and liability concerns. Significantly, VGI disrupts the traditional top-down structure of emergency management and reflects a culture shift away from authoritative control of information. To capitalise on the opportunities of VGI, agencies need to share responsibility and be willing to remain flexible in supporting positive community practises, including VGI. Given the high accountability and inherently responsive nature of decision making in disaster management, it provides a useful lens through which to examine the impacts of VGI on official authoritative systems more broadly. This analysis of the perceptions of emergency management professionals suggests changes to traditional systems that involve decentralisation of power and increased empowerment of citizens, where value is increasingly recognised in both expert and citizen-produced information, initiatives and practises. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd.


PubMed | La Trobe University, University of Bristol and Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Center
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of traumatic stress | Year: 2016

Numerous studies show that those involved in disaster response may develop posttraumatic stress disorder or experience secondary traumatic stress (STS). There are few reports about the experiences of postdisaster field research interviewers. We report findings from a follow-up study of researchers who conducted postwildfire field research interviews with residents affected by 5 severe wildfire events in Australia over the period 2009-2014. There were 33 postwildfire research interviewers who reported their experiences, and 18 of them (54.5%) described distressing interviews involving deaths, surviving severe threats to life, and destruction of houses. There were 27 (81.6%) who reported having experienced 1 or more STS symptoms on a 20-item measure. Those who conducted interviews following a multifatality wildfire event reported higher levels of STS symptoms compared with researchers whose interviews followed nonfatal wildfires. There were 21 (63.6%) researchers who reported that their interviewing experiences had positive effects on their lives. This indicates that the researcher role of gathering information so that future wildfire risk could be mitigated may have served a protective function.

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