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Physics-aware machine learning for data-driven fire risk prediction

Funding period: 2022-2024

Funding agency: Australian Research Council Discovery Program

Project leader, researchers and collaborators: Prof Matthias Boer (Lead); Dr Grant Williamson (UTAS), Dr Rachael Nolan, Prof Paul Hurley, Prof David Bowman (UTAS) and Em Prof Ross Bradstock

Project summary: The 2019/20 Australian fire season was unprecedented in its extent, impact, and the response of fire agencies. In this project, we aim to answer the question: was the scale of these fires driven by known drivers of fire (drought, weather, fuels and ignitions), or were fundamentally new undescribed processes and phenomena involved? We will accomplish this by developing an innovative, physics-aware machine learning model of fire risk and spread, trained and validated on a two-decade satellite fire record. The predictive ability of the model will be tested on the 2019/20 fire season to determine if novel drivers of fire can be identified, and the model itself will be operationalised into a novel short-to-mid term fire risk prediction tool.