Greenhouse gasses, particulate emissions and air quality

Work Package 3

Balancing bushfire risk with smoke impacts on the environment and human health.

Smoke from bushfires is a major health hazard and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Prescribed burning potentially reduces the area of bushfire but also produces its own emissions and smoke. To understand the trade-off between smoke from prescribed burning and reduction of bushfire risk, researchers will model the smoke impact of individual fires based on their intensity, fuel moisture content, proximity to population centres, and the weather and atmospheric conditions. This will help fire managers to plan prescribed burning that minimised the overall impact on human health and the environment.

What we’re doing:

  • Measuring fuel consumption and estimating greenhouse gas and particulate emissions from a range of prescribed burns and bushfires
  • Analysing the drivers of air-quality impact from past fires to improve understanding, prediction and mitigation
  • Evaluating air quality prediction models as used by fire management agencies
  • Modelling the emissions from a range of prescribed burning rates and arrangements to identify strategies that minimise emissions and pollution exposure

This research will help us to understand whether prescribed burning can be used to reduce overall population exposure to smoke.