Thanks are given to the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (Mike Wouters, Rob Ellis, and colleagues) for fire spread and vegetation data and to Robert Fawcett, Claire Yeo, the editor, and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments, which helped us to improve the manuscript. Thanks also are given to the developers of WRF-SFIRE for their suggestions and assistance. This work has been supported by the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre and the Bureau of Meteorology. Simulations were run on supercomputing facilities at E-Research SA.
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Mallees are a eucalypt species that have multiple stems growing from a ground-level lignotuber. They are usually less than 10 m high and are a major vegetation group of semiarid areas of southern Australia.
The relationship between wind speed and fire spread uses the Rothermel model, which is valid for equilibrium rates of spread. Here, it is applied to winds that exhibit short-term fluctuations. While it may be less accurate in this situation, we nevertheless expect that the tendency for fires to spread faster in stronger winds expressed in the model will apply in nature.