Flammability is strongly determined by the amount of moisture in the dead and living vegetation matter. Fire services and land managers need information of fuel moisture content to undertake hazard reduction burns, to prepare for the fire season, and to anticipate the difficulty of suppressing bushfires throughout the fire season. At present, very simple equations are used to get an approximate estimate of flammability.
We are developing the next generation of fire risk monitoring tools and making them available to land managers and fire services across Australia through our Australian Flammability Monitoring System. To do that, we are using satellite remote sensing to measure the moisture content of living vegetation. In addition, we are developing new methods to estimate moisture in the surface litter layer by understanding how these are linked to moisture in the soil.