Sarah Harris has international research standing on her work in fire science and climatology. Her PhD, which was funded by the NOAA Climate and Global Change Program, analysed the environmental and human controls on fire activity in the northern Australian savannas Sarah’s PhD was awarded the Peter Kershaw Award for most outstanding PhD in the School of Geography and Environmental Science in 2009.
Sarah was a postdoctoral research scholar at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory with the California Institute of Technology. This work focused on the impacts and recovery of southern California fires using remotely sensed data and enhanced Sarah’s experience in remote sensing applications and fire science.
Since 2010 Sarah has been funded by the Department of Sustainability and the Environment (now the Department of Environment and Primary Industries) through the Bushfire CRC to work on various fire related projects for Victoria. This work included analysing the relationship between the power of fire and community loss, which resulted in determining the implications for developing a bushfire severity scale. More recent research has developed methods for forecasting bushfire activity in Victoria using El Nino Southern Oscillation and climate variables.
Sarah is currently working closely with the Desert Research Institute in the USA, to assist in creating a 40-year homogenous hourly fire weather climatology using the Weather and Research Forecasting (WRF) model. This work will continue to focus on Victorian fire weather in determining any changes over time, trends and then be used as a baseline for future climate change studies.
Sarah’s work in her short career has produced nine peer reviewed journal articles in internationally recognised journals in the fields of remote sensing, fire science and climatology. Additionally, Sarah has given many presentations at national and international conferences and also presented for several project stakeholders including DSE, CFA, and the Bureau of Meteorology.