Climate change, extreme wildfires, and air pollution — Dr Giovanni Di Virgilio

12 pm
Menzies Lecture Theatre 1
17 Liverpool Street, Hobart
19 Nov 2019

This presentation covers two topics of importance to Australia in a changing climate. First, although prescribed burns help wildfire mitigation, they can impact air quality. Dr Di Virgilio identifies the meteorological factors linked to poor air quality during burns. He demonstrate how meteorological diurnal variation leads to elevated PM2.5 concentrations during burns and suggest how burn timing might change to reduce air pollution. Second, he will introduce a project using high-resolution climate modelling to identify how future changes in atmospheric instability and dryness increase the potential for extreme wildfires. He identifies where in Australia these increased risks are likely to occur, as well as a forward extension of the season conducive to extreme wildfires into spring. This change is important, because extreme wildfires are typically summer phenomena. These findings are relevant to the planning for and management of dangerous wildfires and have implications for urban expansion on fire-prone landscapes.

Giovanni Di Virgilio is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. He has a keen interest in air pollution meteorology, and has worked in projects investigating the impacts of wildfires and prescribed burning on urban air quality in Sydney. His current research focus is on regional climate modelling, with a keen interest in model evaluation, climate change adaptation, and projections of future extreme wildfire risk.