Tuesday, 29 August 2017: 2:15 PM
St. Gallen (Swissotel Chicago)
The prediction of pyroconvection presents complex problems for meteorologists and wildfire managers, given that plume-driven feedback processes between fire and atmosphere can lead to unpredictable and dangerous wildfire behaviour. In particular, plume dynamics is a significant factor in the transport of burning debris leading to new fires often many kilometres in advance of the main fire front in a process known as spotting. Here we present the initial findings of the Bushfire Convective Plume Experiment (BCPE), using portable dual-polarized X-band radar (from The University of Queensland; UQ-XPOL) to study fire-driven convection in Australia. Coupled with portable Automatic Weather Station observations, time-lapse photography, airborne multispectral imaging and spot-fire mapping, the design of the BCPE enables quantitative analysis of pyroconvection and its role in fire behaviour. The results include observations of three significant wildfires and one prescribed burn, with insights into deployment strategy, plume evolution, vortex generation, dual polarisation signatures and pyrocumulonimbus initiation. The findings demonstrate the suitability of portable, dual-polarized X-band Doppler radar for this application. There is an emerging space for the use of the X-band frequency matched with fire behaviour data where the nature of the in-plume scatterers remains poorly understood.
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