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Canberra Today 2°/6° | Monday, May 20, 2024 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

New bushfire research facility unveiled at Black Mountain

Right: Ablaze – the Pyrotron in action at the National Bushfire Behaviour Research Laboratory at CSIRO Black Mountain, Canberra. Photo: CSIRO.

THE CSIRO has unveiled a new research facility at Black Mountain able to replicate the aspects of real-life bushfires and help responders better understand how they behave.

Constructed at a cost of $2.1 million, the new laboratory will boost the power of CSIRO’s Pyrotron and Vertical Wind Tunnel, two unique instruments designed to allow the detailed investigation of the physics of bushfires.

CSIRO bushfire behaviour expert Dr Andrew Sullivan says the instruments are purpose-built to replicate aspects of bushfires under a controlled range of conditions without the risks, safety concerns and access issues that a live bushfire presented to firefighters.

“Bushfires are a natural part of life in Australia, but as we know, they can be devasting, and staying on the front foot can be difficult because there are so many factors at play,” said Dr Sullivan.

“The new laboratory will help us better understand fundamental bushfire behaviour dynamics, and the factors and interactions that influence the behaviour of bushfires, to support their management by firefighters.

“The apparatus in the new laboratory can also help researchers and fire management agencies to better understand and manage fires under future climate conditions.” 

CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall said as bushfires become more frequent and severe, the national science agency is investing in research to protect Australians.

“During the Black Summer fires of 2019 and 2020, CSIRO’s scientists worked side by side with teams on the ground – as they have been for nearly every major fire event since 1950s – to better prepare for and manage bushfire seasons that are getting hotter, drier and longer,” said Mr Marshall.

“Bushfires are one of Australia’s greatest challenges, and it will take the best science, facilities and partnerships across industry, government and research to help to protect our communities, front-line responders, and environment.”

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