A 2-hour training package has been developed to ensure that grassland curing observers are able to produce accurate and repeatable observations, no matter where in the state they may be. The training is designed to give observers a greater understanding of how to undertake grassland curing assessments, and introduce them to the new tools that have been developed. Training has commenced in the North West, and other dates are being arranged with district training coordinators shortly.
Grassland Curing Field Card
The Grassland Curing Field Card, developed last year, is a quick and easy reference card to assist observers making visual measurements in the field. Observers record curing, as well as grass height and percent cover which aid in fuel load estimations. Version two of this card has been released this spring, which features an updated time lapse photography photo reference panel.
Grassland Curing Online System
An online system has been developed to allow for easy data entry and collation of observations. The system has been designed to be simple and user friendly and can be used with PCs, smartphones or tablets. All steps in the creation of the map can now be done online and once complete the map is automatically sent through to the Bureau of Meteorology for inclusion into fire danger calculations, and is published to the internet and as a layer in eMap.
The grassland curing map is now represented using interpolation between grassland curing locations, and has a forest and water-bodies mask. The map is updated each Monday afternoon and can be accessed at: http://cfaonline.cfa.vic.gov.au/mycfa/Show?pageId=colGrasslandCuringMap
Or as a layer in eMap: http://emap.dse.vic.gov.au
Photo reference guides
Grasses are being grown in a greenhouse and photo-stands have been established across country Victoria to document life cycle stages as the grass matures and dies. These photos will be used to produce an updated grassland curing guide in 2013.
Fire behaviour studies
The grassland curing project team has teamed up with CSIRO and will be conducting some laboratory burns in a horizontal wind tunnel called the Pyrotron (http://www.csiro.au/Organisation-Structure/National-Facilities/Pyrotron-2.aspx) to gain a better understanding of fire behaviour at different curing rates in different species. Results from this study will be replicated in landscape burns next year.
- Online system
Improvements are already taking shape for version 2 of the online system, including a quick photo upload for those using smartphones in the field. Any feedback or suggestions for system improvements are welcomed!
The historic grassland curing observations are being tested against satellite-derived vegetation indices to determine the best grassland curing index. Once known, the satellite data will be integrated into the grassland curing output map product.
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