Building on a technique commonly used to extinguish oil well fires, Dr Graham Doig from the University of New South Wales' School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering is examining whether explosives could be used to fight out-of-control forest and bushfires by blasting the flames out of treetops, slowing the fire and making it easier to fight on the ground.
Devastating wildfires are burning around the Mediterranean this summer and down south, Australia is still recovering from its worst wildfire season in history in which more than 150 lives and 1800 homes were lost on ‘Black Saturday’. Telecommunications are paramount to helping save lives and direct fire-fighting efforts in wildfires but unfortunately, infrastructure such as mobile and fixed line phones and Internet services are often early casualties in fire ravaged areas. The country’s major telco, Telstra, has launched a portable solution to this issue with the unveiling of a AUD$200,000 Mobile Exchange on Wheels (MEOW) which can be quickly deployed to provide temporary fixed-line communications including broadband.
Australia’s ‘Black Saturday’ in February claimed 173 lives and countless homes and livelihoods. The country’s worst wildfire tragedy, this horrific disaster was an extreme example of an annual threat faced not only in Australia but also North America and South Africa where similar dry conditions are experienced. As the survivors struggle to come to terms with their losses and begin to rebuild their lives, questions are being asked about what could have been done, and what must be done now to better protect populations. Tougher building standards for homes in fire-prone areas will be introduced, but another option under scrutiny is fire resistant shelters - are they safe, should governments play a role in their development and how should they be designed and built? Entering this debate is the Bushbunker, a dedicated fire shelter design which aims to maximize the likelihood of survival regardless of the intensity or type of fire.
March 24, 2009 The weather conditions that lead to Southern Australia’s past two devastating bushfires may be linked to lower than normal sea-surface temperatures in the eastern Indian Ocean, according to CSIRO research presented at the Greenhouse 2009 Conference
today. The Ash Wednesday bushfires
in February 1983 and the Black Saturday bushfires
in February were preceded by months of very dry conditions. Those dry conditions were partly caused by cooler ocean sea-surface temperatures in the eastern Indian Ocean, which contributed to a substantial reduction in spring-time rainfall over the south-east of Australia.