Lightning Adds to Fire Danger

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Lightning Adds to Fire Danger

Postby Overlandman » Tue 15 Jan, 2019 4:49 pm

Tastrax had an update on lightning strikes in the Gell River Forum

A broader warning from ABC news

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-15/ ... a/10716718

Bushwalkers warned to leave

Walkers are being told to leave a popular water hole on the state's east coast because of a bushfire.

The fire at Douglas-Apsley National Park, near Bicheno, was reported just before 3:00pm.

The TFS issued an advice alert and was telling walkers and travellers to leave the water hole area.

The day use area, including the gorge and waterhole area, and the Leeaberra walking track have been closed.

The TFS said two small fires caused by lightning were burning on Maria Island off the state's east coast.

Claudia Jenkins was on the island, and said she was advised by park rangers to leave.

Also at the bottom of this story

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-15/ ... d/10705112

Always thought it was the hole in the ozone layer :D
Regards OLM

Update 16th January

Close up video of the lightning hitting the ground is impressive.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-16/ ... e/10718794
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Re: Lightning Adds to Fire Danger

Postby Overlandman » Thu 17 Jan, 2019 11:15 am

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Re: Lightning Adds to Fire Danger

Postby beardless » Thu 17 Jan, 2019 11:37 am

This is a great episode of ABC Radio program Off Track with interviews with the laughing distinguished Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick.

He speaks about Tasmania's alpine area and the threat of fire. To paraphrase he says the temperature and rainfall has not changed for the Southwest of Tasmania but there has been an increase in wind and dry lightning causing fire.

There is a page with a link to the audio

https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/pr ... n/10514590
Last edited by beardless on Thu 17 Jan, 2019 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lightning Adds to Fire Danger

Postby north-north-west » Thu 17 Jan, 2019 11:41 am

If temperatures and rainfall have not changed, why is it so dry?
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Re: Lightning Adds to Fire Danger

Postby Son of a Beach » Thu 17 Jan, 2019 11:49 am

I noted with interest that according to the expert meteorologist from the BOM, lightening strikes have probably not increased, but our ability to detect them has. This was without comment on whether or not the wet/dry ratio of strikes had changed.
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Re: Lightning Adds to Fire Danger

Postby tastrax » Thu 17 Jan, 2019 1:42 pm

Lightning detection has been around for many years. I did a year as fire spotter in the early 2000's and we used it then to plot flight paths, post fronts coming through (if we weren't already in the air following the fronts). Maybe the detection is getting greater numbers, which I have to say makes the job a whole lot harder. To be honest, you also need time after the fronts, especially if there is any rain after the front, to actually spot the fires/smoke. Over such a wide area as the current fires you would working your butt off getting all the starts documented and relaying the information!

Sophisticated aircraft with the ability to pick up 'hotspots' via infrared Linescan Technology are also not completely infallible.

Example of linescan imagery http://www.airaffairs.com.au/bushfire_ISR/

For working the fireline, maybe we need to give every firefighter a FLIR attachment for their phones...although its just something else to lug around! This technology has come a long way in the last 10-15 years.

https://www.flir.com/products/flir-one-gen-3/
Cheers - Phil

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Re: Lightning Adds to Fire Danger

Postby Nuts » Thu 17 Jan, 2019 1:47 pm

picked up this suggesting changed weather patterns rather than mean averages (..so far) from the Journal 'Fire'
(from Styger, J.; Marsden-Smedley, J.; Kirkpatrick, J. ):

'an increase in 'the proportion of lightning strikes that occur in dry conditions has increased ignition efficiency'

Abstract
The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) has globally significant natural and cultural values, some of which are dependent on the absence of fire or the presence of particular fire regimes. Planned burning is currently used to reduce the risk of loss of world heritage values from unplanned fires, but large and damaging fires still occur, with lightning as the primary ignition source. Lightning-caused fire was rare in the TWWHA before 2000. There has since been an increase in both the number of fires following lightning storms and the area burnt by these fires. In the absence of a direct measurement of lightning strike incidence, we tested whether changes in rainfall, soil dryness and fuel load were responsible for these changes in fire incidence and extent. There were no relationships between these variables and the incidence of fires associated with lightning, but the variability in the Soil Dryness Index and the mean of 25% of driest values did predict both the number and area of fires. Thus, it appears that an increase in the proportion of lightning strikes that occur in dry conditions has increased ignition efficiency. These changes have important implications for the management of the TWWHA’s values, as higher projected fuel loads and drier climates could result in a further increase in the number of fires associated with lightning. View Full-Text
"The guides are all complaining there's mobile reception and hot showers," Godfrey laughs.
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Re: Lightning Adds to Fire Danger

Postby whynotwalk » Thu 17 Jan, 2019 2:08 pm

Son of a Beach wrote:I noted with interest that according to the expert meteorologist from the BOM, lightning strikes have probably not increased, but our ability to detect them has.


Hmmm .... thanks for raising this Nik. I heard the same, and meant to comment earlier. (It seems others have been busy while I prepared my response!)

While our ability to detect lightning strikes has increased, I have heard and read a contrary analysis of dry lightning frequency, from DPIPWE fire management and botany staff, (prepared in 2007, published in 2010*). They found that while dry lightning was very rare in the 20th century - and fire patterns would indicate earlier centuries too - there was a marked increase from about 2003 onwards. However the frequency in the last few years is off the chart.

I'm not a meteorologist, but have studied climatology. Put these things together:

1) Air temperatures over mainland Australia are reaching new record highs most years
2) Ocean temperatures are warming markedly too
3) Drier, warmer weather, with thunder cells embedded, is drifting across Tasmania from a super-heated mainland.
4) Many of these cells don't have much rain associated with them.

The predictable result is an increase in lightning-ignited wildfires. The above report concluded, even in 2007, that
"The incidence of lightning ignitions causing wildfires in south-west Tasmania is increasing. Climate change forecasts suggest this trend is likely to continue.

Oh brother, has that come to pass! So I think it's squibbing it to say that this is due to better detection, and not to talk about climate change.

It seems to me this is a canary-in-the-coalmine dropping off its perch right before our eyes. Doing nothing doesn't seem a smart response. And especially when our irreplaceable fire-sensitive species are being lost forever.

cheers

Peter

* "Buttongrass Moorland Management Workshop": Nature Conservation Report 10/4, DPIPWE, edited by Jayne Balmer
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Re: Lightning Adds to Fire Danger

Postby Jon MS » Sun 20 Jan, 2019 8:24 pm

Although thunderstorms have been common throughout the over 40 years that I have been walking in SW Tas, what has changed is that over the last about 15 to 20 years there has been changes to rainfall patterns and we have been getting lightning with minimal rainfall.

I was out walking during 3 of the last 4 major events and in each case despite hours of lightning there would have been less than 20 spots of rain on my tent. This season is no different. Over 11 days this Jan on the west coast south of Strahan we had 4 dry lightning storms. The attached photo shows the storm that caused most of the fires coming in over Pt Hibbs last mon evening.

After researching every fire bigger than about 0.1 ha that occurred in the World Heritage Area over the past 35 years (and in most cases going out on the location where the fire occurred) it has been possible to plot the changes in lightning caused fires. Over this time the area burnt by lightning fires has increased several hundred times, going from a very minor fire cause to the dominant cause.

What appears to be happening is that although there has been no change in average summer rainfall, the rain is coming in shorter heavier bursts which results in greater runoff and hence, less wetting up of the soil and much drier fuels. This means that if dry lightning occurs, it is much more likely to result in a sustaining fire.

Due to the lack of lightning recording stations it is not possible to say if there has been changes to the number of lightning events in SW Tas (although there has been a huge increase in the lightning recorded in Hobart).

This trend in increased lightning caused fires is of critical concern. It has to be stated that if it continues, all of the vegetation types containing King-billy pine, Pencil pine, Huon pine, fagus and coniferous heath are highly threatened. This means that the PWS needs to be resourced adequately so they can do active management in the off-season (mostly buttongrass moorland planned burning) and rapid response in the event of fire starts.

Jon
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Re: Lightning Adds to Fire Danger

Postby Nuts » Mon 21 Jan, 2019 4:10 pm

As it passed (in the nw) the lightning came from the thinnest cloud layers around the edges of the front, i'd not noticed this before.
Dramatic image and some sobering observations Jon (and others in this topic).

I'm not so sure on the future measures we hear to try to limit the effect of fire (as i'm sure, neither are many), a summit on fire in wilderness sounds sorely needed. Not just fire as inevitably the plant communities will change regardless, eg.in response to drying soil.

The climate has changed. Even now, short of some mass technological intervention it could take 100's of thousands of years to recover from our pollution. Are we already preserving alpine museums and what can realistically be achieved on such a scale, are we already 'gardening' ?
"The guides are all complaining there's mobile reception and hot showers," Godfrey laughs.
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Re: Lightning Adds to Fire Danger

Postby Overlandman » Tue 22 Jan, 2019 7:46 am

5 decades of working with BOM

Mike Bergin "stumbled" into a career with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) at the age of 18 and is retiring after five decades, having witnessed firsthand the monumental changes not only in forecasting technology, but also Australia's climate.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-22/ ... s/10733682
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Re: Lightning Adds to Fire Danger

Postby Overlandman » Tue 22 Jan, 2019 7:50 am

Fire bans today
I don’t know why the haven’t banned fires statewide as it is hot and dry in the North West as well

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-22/ ... r/10734312
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Re: Lightning Adds to Fire Danger

Postby Nuts » Tue 29 Jan, 2019 7:20 am

"The guides are all complaining there's mobile reception and hot showers," Godfrey laughs.
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