Journal article

Coupled Atmophere-Fire Simulations of the Black Saturday Kilmor East Wildfires With the Unified Model

Jussi Toivanen, Chermelle B Engel, Michael J Reeder, Todd P Lane, Laura Davies, Stuart Webster, Scott Wales



A model for the spread of a wildfire is developed within the U.K. Met Office Unified Model (UM) and used to simulate the Kilmore East fire complex (in southeastern Australia) on Black Saturday (7 February 2009). The UM is configured with four nests with horizontal grid spacings of 4 km, 1.5 km, 444 m, and 144 m. In the first simulation, the UM simply provides predictions of the near-surface conditions for the wildfire model with no feedbacks to the atmosphere from the fire. In the second, the atmosphere and fire are coupled, allowing the fire to affect the local-scale weather. The agreement between the coupled simulation and the observed fire behavior is reasonably good. For example, the are..

View full abstract

University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

This work has been supported by the Australian Research Council (DP13010186). Computer time was provided through the Australian National Computational Infrastructure Merit Allocation Scheme. The surface dead fuel loading data set came from the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industry. The automatic weather station data were provided by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Due to intellectual property right restrictions, neither the source code nor documentation papers for the UM or JULES can be provided. The Met Office Unified Model is available for use under licence. A number of research organizations and national meteorological services use the UM in collaboration with the Met Office to undertake basic atmospheric process research, produce forecasts, develop the UM code, and build and evaluate Earth system models. For further information on how to apply for a licence see is available under licence free of charge. For further information on how to gain permission to use JULES for research purposes see the time of publication, the data used to produce all figures in the paper are published through the Australian National Data Service ( are grateful to Paola Petrelli for her assistance in publishing these data.