Optus and ANU to throw satellites, drones, and robotics at Australian bushfires

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The Australian bushfires wreaked havoc. A new study shows that anthropogenic climate change made things worse.


Image: World Weather Attribution

The Australian National University (ANU) and Optus announced on Thursday the pair would attempt to develop a national system to detect and extinguish fires using a mixture of satellites, drones, and robotics.

The first step of the program, which is due to run until 2024, will be to create an “autonomous ground-based and aerial fire detection system”.

It will begin with the trial of long-range infra-red sensor cameras placed on towers in fire-prone areas in the ACT, which will allow the ACT Rural Fire Service (RFS) to monitor and identify bushfires.

The long-term goal, though, is to put out fires using drones.

“We hope to develop a system that can locate a fire within the first few minutes of ignition and extinguish it soon afterwards,” ANU vice-chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt

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Citizen scientists reveal frogs’ initial response to ‘black summer’ bushfires

Surviving the flames: citizen scientists reveal frogs’ initial response to ‘black summer’ bushfires
The threatened Southern Barred Frog, one of the frogs recorded calling in burnt areas post-fire using FrogID. Credit: Dr Jodi Rowley

New research from the Australian Museum (AM) and UNSW Sydney published today in Conservation Science and Practice reveals that many frog species in southeastern Australia have initially survived following the unprecedented bushfires in late 2019 and early 2020. By area burnt, this fire season was the largest in southeastern Australia since European occupation and as a result, it had a dramatic impact on biodiversity, including frogs.


Frogs are one of the most threatened groups of animals on earth and face many risks, including the growing threat of fires due to the climate crisis.

“However, we don’t know enough about frogs’ response to fire, and there are limited studies on the impact of fire on Australian frogs—so we urgently needed real-time data to understand how frogs fared after the fires,

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