Adelaide aerial mapping specialist, Aerometrex, has developed what is believed to be a world-breakthrough in new technology able to determine, in three dimensions, the exact fuel load densities in any bushfire prone region.
The move is expected to bring a critical new pre-emptive fire-fighting tool in time for emergency and government authorities to use during the imminent 2020-2021 fire season.
Fuel loads are one of the primary causes behind the intensity and scope of evolving bushfires, along with prevailing weather conditions.
Quantifying bushfire fuel loads and overall fuel hazards is a fundamental step in bushfire management and planning and for better understanding of the risks posed by bushfires to the community, the economy and the environment. Additionally, of all the factors that govern the severity of a bushfire – the fuel load is the only one that humans can influence through management practices.
The new technology surpasses current and historic methodologies through delivering and visualising data not possible to be collected or “seen” from conventional satellite, aerial or drone imagery fire-fighting tools.
It provides real-time insights and ultra-high data capture density at critical times, into fuel loads and their location underneath tree canopies – regardless of location, terrain type, ground cover or accessibility.
The process was developed during exhaustive new work by Aerometrex this year, in close collaboration with bushfire experts within state and local governments, in the wake of the calamitous 2019-2020 bushfires that particularly swept SA, NSW, Victoria and Queensland last December-January.
Aerometrex believes that this research is both timely and relevant following the detailed recommendations of the Bushfire Royal Commission, state-level bushfire inquiries and the final reports published by the Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC.
Many of these reports highlighted remote sensing technologies such as LIDAR as critical resources that have the potential to revolutionise bushfire management and response practices following the 2019/2020 Australian bushfire season.
Aerometrex’s research has included intensive test work and analysis around last summer’s Adelaide Hills fire data and studies within Belair National Park this year on eucalyptus forests analogous to much of Australia’s landscapes.
The Company says the technology, an advance on its existing remote sensing Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) 3D aerial mapping system, is available to government and fire-fighting authorities this season. It will complement and enhance traditional bushfire management practices, bushfire prediction models and bushfire response techniques. It is understood to be the first system able to standardise the capture of LIDAR for the purpose of bushfire fuel load mapping in Australia, and with intense accuracy down to just centimetres above ground in specific target areas, or, across large fire-prone footprints.
Aerometrex says the breakthrough should allow emergency authorities, government, and communities, to adopt a far more science-based and pre-emptive fuel load strike position ahead of this year’s bushfire season.