Multiscale experimentation and simulation of wildfire spotting

3 minute read

Picture of wildfire on shoreline

Wildfires pose a significant risk to human and environmental assets around the world, especially in the Mediterranean region and Australia. Firebrands generated in wildfires are one of the most dangerous exposure mechanisms and the main cause of the house and life loss. They can be lifted by fire plume and transported far ahead of the fire front by wind (short-range) or convective column (medium- and long-range), initiate new fires and ignite structures. This process calls spotting and consists of generation, transport and fuel ignition mechanisms.

Although short-, medium- and long-range spotting are parts of the same process, they are still studied separately, and there are no multiscale models that include all mechanisms. The key idea of this project is that spotting must be considered simultaneously at all scales in order to understand the generation (combustion) and transport (atmospheric convection) of firebrands, as well as the ignition mechanism of fuel beds and structures (fire dynamics).

Project goals

The overall goal of the proposed research is to better understand the phenomenon of short- and long-range spotting during wildland and prescribed fires and develop mathematical models for their simulation.

The work is divided by scale: the University of Melbourne (UoM) PhD candidate will focus on small-scale effects but will develop experiments and models to upscale combustion processes to atmospheric scale, while the CNRS (the University of Corsica) PhD candidate will focus on numerical development on coupled fire-atmosphere models (see animation) as well as downscaling these fire-atmosphere interactions to fire front combustion processes.

Supervision team

*Click on the researcher's name above to learn more about their publication and grant successes.

Who we are looking for

We are seeking a PhD candidate with the following skills:

  • Demonstrated experience in the field of science (physics, mathematics, mechanical/fire protection engineering, computer science or a closely related environmental or physical science)Demonstrated experience in CFD modelling and experimental methods (UoM candidate)
  • Demonstrated experience of atmospheric dynamics and/or combustion (CNRS candidate)
  • Demonstrated experience in programming and/or model development
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Demonstrated time and project management skills
  • Demonstrated ability to write research reports or other publications to a publishable standard (even if not published to date)
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Demonstrated organisational skills, time management and ability to work to priorities.
  • Demonstrated problem-solving abilities.

Further details

  • The PhD candidates will benefit from the combined expertise of the project supervisors, and the embedding into two research environments.
  • Dr Alexander Filkov at the UoM will contribute expertise in fire behaviour and fire dynamics. Dr Jean-Baptiste Filippi at CNRS will contribute expertise in the area of fire-atmosphere interactions, computing and atmospheric modelling.
  • Two Joint PhD opportunities are available. The candidates will be enrolled in the PhD program at the School of Ecosystems and Forest Sciences at the University of Melbourne, and the CNRS PhD candidate will be enrolled in the PhD program at the UMR CNRS 6134 at the University of Corsica.
  • UoM PhD candidate will be based at the University of Melbourne and the CNRS PhD candidate at the University of Corsica. Each PhD candidate will spend a minimum of 12 months at a partner university.


To apply for this joint PhD opportunity, and to view the entry requirements, visit How to apply.

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