University Of Tasmania
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An assessment of the viability of prescribed burning as a management tool under a changing climate: a Tasmanian case study

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conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 13:36 authored by Harris, RMB, Tomas Remenyi, Fox-Hughes, P, Peter LovePeter Love, Helen PhillipsHelen Phillips, Nathaniel BindoffNathaniel Bindoff
Fire danger is projected to increase across Tasmania under climate change, with the fire season starting earlier and lasting longer. Prescribed burning is currently the only effective method of managing bushfire risk at the landscape scale in Tasmania. It is generally carried out during autumn and spring, when weather conditions allow low intensity burns to be safely managed. We investigated the changing opportunities for prescribed burning in Tasmania in the near future (2021-2040) and towards the end of the century (2081-2100) under a high emissions scenario (SRES A2). We assessed monthly changes in the climate variables that determine when prescribed burning can be applied, including rainfall, temperature, fuel moisture and atmospheric stability. We found that in the future, weather conditions conducive to safe, low intensity burning may occur less frequently. Increased Drought Factor and Soil Dryness Index in spring and autumn, resulting from rising temperatures and reduced rainfall, may result in increased fuel availability. These trends become evident in the near future (2021-2040), followed by substantial changes by the end of the century (2081-2100). This suggests a significant reduction in the ability to safely conduct and contain prescribed burns in the coming decades. These findings have important consequences for the ability to manage bushfire risk using prescribed burning in the future. The timing and resourcing of prescribed burning may be affected, with a narrower window of suitable weather conditions for burning. Alternative methods to build resilience to bushfire risk may need to be considered.


Publication title

Research Forum 2017: Proceedings from the Research Forum at the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Conference


report 263


M Rumsewicz






Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC

Place of publication


Event title

Research Forum at the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Conference

Event Venue


Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Rights statement

Copyright 2017 the Authors. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Effects of climate change on Australia (excl. social impacts)

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