Nelson forest fire puts Scion fire research in the spotlight


The major wildfire that has burned 2300 ha of forest and surrounding grassland at Pigeon Valley near Wakefield has resulted in much publicity for Scion’s rural fire research.

Scion fire scientist Veronica Clifford worked as part of the Incident Management Team coordinating fire control operations where she provided fire weather and fire behaviour predictions using a range of prediction tools developed by the Scion fire research group. Atmospheric scientists Ilze Pretorius and Tara Strand also produced smoke forecasts during the first few days of the fire using the prototype smoke model under development.

In the meantime, fire scientist Grant Pearce dealt with numerous enquiries around the factors contributing to the fire, and the future risk of more similar fires with climate change. This was picked up in a number of newspaper articles and online, and Grant was also interviewed on radio, including as part of features on the Tasman fire on Radio NZ’s Lately and Insight programs.

The Scion research team has also begun collecting information on the fire’s spread as part of a case study to evaluate how well existing fire behaviour models and prediction tools worked, and to assist in Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s operational reviews of the incident.

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