All-weather, near real-time monitoring of bushfire with satellite SAR

Project Leader: Brittany Dahl

Participants: Nova Systems Consulting, University of New South Wales (UNSW)

P3-19


Bushfire is a constant threat to Australia which has been exacerbated by climate change. For example, the 2019 20 Australian bushfire season, colloquially known as the Black Summer, was a period of unusually intense bushfires in many parts of Australia, started in June 2019 and continued through to May 2020. In total, more than 9,352 buildings were destroyed with 34 direct deaths and 417 indirect deaths due to bushfire smoke inhalation.

The aim of this project is to exploit interferometric coherence of high resolution satellite SAR imagery in order to detect bushfire early and reliably, monitor its spread day and night and in all weather conditions, and hence greatly improve our bushfire management capabilities. Project activities include not only the development of a robust satellite SAR based ‘production line’ to convert sensing imagery to fire intelligence, but also a number of comprehensive bushfire case studies across states. The expected outcomes are:

1) an innovative tool based on satellite SAR (e.g. 3 metre resolution Sentinel-1A, 1B and NovaSAR) ready to be integrated into the existing bushfire information systems such as the Digital Earth Australia Hotspot (DEAH) system, which complements its planned upgrade through the addition of shortwave infrared information from geostationary satellites (e.g. Himawari-8);

2) technical reports on several case studies of using the new tool to detect and monitor bushfires which may occur in the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 fire seasons; and 3) a report
detailing recommendations for future follow-on project phases by a group of workshop attendees of industry-gathered emergency services clients.