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Justification

The fires that devastated Portugal in 2017, were outstanding for several reasons: they caused more than 112 deaths, destroyed hundreds of houses and companies and more than 500 thousand hectares, establishing absolute records of fire-induced destruction in the country. Among other requests made by society there is the need of producing a better knowledge on the role of meteorology on the extreme behaviour in such fires, that may be incorporated in decision support tools and transferred to operational decisions and may help save lives.

Ongoing climatic changes have created more frequent drought and heat wave conditions that trigger the occurrence of Extreme Wildfire Events (EWE). We intend to look at historical data on fire occurrence in Portugal and identify the conditions that lead to EWE and to define methods to predict them in space and in time and provide an early warning to the authorities and population. 

Heat release is an important issue in the management of EWE, but smoke emitted by the various stages of combustion can be very harmful to personal safety due to its effects on visibility, comfort and survivability. In FIRESTOM Project we will incorporate smoke emission and dispersion modelling in fire simulators and decision support systems to help the authorities plan or execute aerial or ground operations namely evacuation actions more safely.

The FIRESTORM Consortium will dedicate great attention and effort to disseminate and promote the knowledge developed in the project to the scientific community, to operational bodies, to decision makers and to the public. Besides the usual scientific dissemination indicators we intend to promote activities that will assure that the outcome of the project will reach a wide audience. 

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Objectives

The main objectives of this project are:

Identify and characterize

the climatic and weather conditions that are associated to Extreme Wildfire Events (EWE) in Portugal

Analyse and model

the interaction of atmospheric and ground flows with fires and understand the feedback between them

Analyse and model

conflagrations and mass fires and some of the processes that are associated to them like crown fires, spot fires, and aerial flames

Analyse and model

the merging of neighbouring fires and the processes that are associated with them, such as fire whirls and wind whirls

Analyse and model

smoke emission and dispersion in EWE and asses its impact on human safety

Disseminate the results

of the project to the scientific and academic communities, the operational and political decision makers and also to the public

Workplan

In this project we will deal with three fundamental problems:

(i) climate and meteorology;

(ii) extreme fire behaviour and

(iii) smoke emission and dispersion.

The methodologies to be applied to these problems will be based on experimental observation of the processes at multiple scales (laboratory, field experiments and full scale fires), remote sensing, and physical and semi empirical modelling, using advanced computational methods to provide at least a partial understanding of the processes and to integrate them in a decision support platform.

Given the complexity of the processes, we will split them into smaller problems that will be studied separately as deeply as our resources and time allow; then we will make an integration effort to link the various scales and process.

To deal with atmospheric processes we will use satellite and radar data, discrete measurements and weather prediction model results; in the analysis of combustion and fire spread processes we will use infra-red cameras, heat transfer sensors, PIV techniques both at laboratory and at field scales.

We will perform analysis of smoke dispersion and concentration using satellite and aerial images as well as data from monitoring sensors and numerical chemical transport models. 

Related Research Projects

SpitFire

Spanish-Portuguese Meteorological Information System for Trans-Boundary Operations in Forest Fires.
ECHO/SUB/2014/693768. - January 1st, 2015 to 31st December, 2016

Firewhirl

Vorticity Effects in Forest Fires.
PTDC/EMS-ENE/2530/2014. - March 23rd, 2017 to March 22nd, 2020

MCFIRE

Measuring the moisture content of forest fuels and assessing their behaviour within the new climate realities.
PCIF/MPG/0108/2017 - March 1st, 2019 to February 28th, 2022

WUIVIEW Project

ECHO/2018/826522

Fireprotect

Sistemas de Proteção de Pessoas e Elementos Críticos Expostos a Incêndios Florestais.
CENTRO-01-0246-FEDER-000015

FIREXTR

Prevenir e preparar a sociedade par eventos extremos de fogo: o desafio de ver "a floresta" e não somente as "árvores".
PTDC/ATPGEO/0462/2014 (2016-19)

FIREFRONT

Real-Time Forest Fire Mapping and Spread Forecast Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
PCIF/SSI/0096/2017

FUMEXP

Fire-fighters smoke exposure and related health effects.

Vital Responder 2.0

Intelligent management of critical events of stress, fatigue and environmental hazards.

EUFIRELAB

Laboratório Euro-Mediterrânico na área de Fogos Florestais, um Laboratório “virtual” para as Ciências em Fogos Florestais e Tecnologias na Região Euro-Mediterrânica.

INFLAME

Previsão do comportamento do fogo: Modelação e experimentação.

INTERFACE

Efeito dos Incêndios Florestais Peri-urbanos na Qualidade do Ar.

QUIMERA

Alterações Climáticas em Portugal: impacto na ocorrência de incêndios florestais e na qualidade do ar.

SPREAD

Prevenção, Progressão e Mitigação de Fogos Florestais.

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