European organization recruiting 15 fire-related PhD candidates

PyroLife will train a new generation of experts in integrated wildfire management

PhD candidates in Europe
Two of the 15 positions available for fire-related PhD candidates in Europe. Click to enlarge.

An organization in Europe is recruiting 15 PhD candidates who have wildfire-related  masters degrees. They will be part of the PyroLife Innovative Training Network (Marie Skłodowska-Curie) involved in integrated fire management.

Ten leading institutions will host and monitor the research done by the 15 individuals who are early-stage researchers. The interdisciplinary and intersectoral consortium spans across Northwest and Southern Europe and beyond, encompassing the key disciplines and actors in fire; from academia and research institutes to small and large businesses, advocacy, governance, and emergency management.

One of the announcements for the 15 positions has already closed, and the others will very soon. Here is a link to the individual announcements.

The project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Innovative Training Networks.

The applicants will be based in various locations in Europe. Some of them will at times be in one or more of the following countries: Spain, Canada, France, Netherlands, Greece, United States, Poland, UK, Denmark, New Zealand, or Germany.

The positions may have unusual requirements concerning the location of the applicant. Here is an example:

PyroLife as a Marie Curie Action is a researcher mobility programme. You are therefore required to undertake transnational mobility in order to be eligible for recruitment. As such, you must not have resided or carried out your main activity (e.g. work, studies) in the country where you have been recruited for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date.

Below is more information from the organization’s website:


Do you have a genuine interest in landscape fires and resilience? Are you up for an interdisciplinary challenge, looking and learning beyond your own field and assumptions? With an international team that is inclusive, collaborative, creative and open minded? Then we are looking for you!

The 2018 wildfire season was a glimpse of what to expect in the future: deadly mega-fires in Mediterranean regions and high fire activity in temperate and boreal areas outside the typical Spring fire season. We cannot solve this challenge with the old mono-disciplinary approach of fire suppression: there is a critical need to change fire management from fire resistance to landscape resilience: Living with Fire. This requires a new type of diverse experts, who not only understand fire, but who are also able to communicate risks, deal with uncertainty, and link scientific disciplines as well as science and practice.

The new Innovative Training Network PyroLife will train the new generation of interdisciplinary experts in integrated fire management, acknowledging that 1) knowledge transfer from southern Europe (and worldwide) to temperate Europe can support the new generation of experts; and 2) fire risk planning, communication and management can learn from cross-risk lessons including temperate European expertise in water management. In doing so, this project combines how the North solves community problems with the fire knowledge of the European South.

We are hiring 15 PhD candidates across Southern and Northwest Europe and across a range of scientific disciplines, from social sciences and policy to environmental sciences and engineering. We are looking for a diverse group of creative and open minded Early Stage Researchers who are able to link innovative science to society, and communicate with media, stakeholders, and policy makers.

These 15 positions are open at 6 universities, 2 research institutes, a foundation and a company across Southern and Northwest Europe. For an overview of all positions, please visit https://pyrolife.lessonsonfire.eu/

This PhD project will help formulate an effective temperate European Fire Danger rating system that is urgently needed to support the management of increased wildfire occurrence expected under changing climatic conditions.  The project will take a hydrological approach, predicting the moisture content of fuels (living and dead vegetation) at a range of spatial scales; from targeted high risk localised plots to temperate European regions. Fuel moisture predictions will be devised from the development of a low-cost wireless fuel moisture sensor network combined with remotely sensed water and vegetation data. Working with secondment partners, the impact of the refined temperate fuel moisture contents on fire behaviour and fire danger will be assessed at exemplar sites. The PhD project will be based at the University of Birmingham, UK, with secondments to both the University of Alberta, Canada, and to industry partners Tecnosylva, Spain.

Far more wildfire hectares have burned to date in Europe than average

Wildfires to date in Europe map
Wildfires to date in Europe, May 14, 2019.

The number of hectares that have burned in wildfires so far this year in Europe is over four times the average for this date. Usually wildfire activity begins in earnest around the first of July but this year burned hectares began accumulating rapidly in mid-February. The 11-year average by May 14 is about 35,000 hectares but this year the to-date total is 197,000.

One hectare is equal to 2.47 acres.

Accumulated wildfire hectares to date in Europe
Accumulated wildfire hectares to date in Europe, May 14, 2019.

It is April — and parts of Europe are in High to Very High wildland fire danger

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Wildland fire danger Europe
Wildland fire danger in Europe, April 24, 2019. European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS). Click to enlarge.

Researchers look at how warming will exacerbate the occurrence of wildfires in Mediterranean Europe

wildfire portugal
Wildfire south of Porto, Portugal, September 2, 2012. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

The climate warming that we have been seeing is expected to continue along with the increased risk of larger, more suppression-resistant wildfires. Scientists have examined how this will affect fires in Europe up to a 1.5°C  rise, which is the not-to-exceed target in the Paris climate agreement. Now a study is complete that examines increases of 1.5, 2, and 3°C warming scenarios. Not surprisingly, it found that the higher the warming level, the larger is the increase of burned area, ranging from ~40% to ~100% across the scenarios. Their results indicate that significant benefits would be obtained if warming were limited to well below 2 °C.

wildfires Climate Change Southern Europe
Ensemble mean burned area changes. Burned area changes (%) for a the +1.5 °C case with the stationary model SM (i.e., using Eq. 3), (b) the +1.5 °C case with non-stationary model NSM (i.e., NSM). using Eq. (4), (c) the +2 °C case with SM, (d) the +2 °C case with NSM, (e) the +3 °C case with SM, and f the +3 °C case with NSM. Dots indicate areas where at least 50% of the simulations (1000 bootstrap replications × the ensemble of RCMs) show a statistically significant change and more than 66% agree on the direction of the change. Coloured areas (without dots) indicate that changes are small compared to natural variations, and white regions (if any) indicate that no agreement between the simulations is found. Click to enlarge.

The paper, published in Nature, was written by Marco Turco, Juan José Rosa-Cánovas, Joaquín Bedia, Sonia Jerez, Juan Pedro Montávez, Maria Carmen Llasat, and Antonello Provenzale.

European Commission proposes to enhance ability to respond to civilian disasters

“rescEU”, if approved, would establish a reserve force of air tankers and other firefighting equipment

Above: file photo of air tankers, mostly water scoopers, at Dryden (Ontario, Canada) Regional Airport in June, 2015 before they were dispersed around the province to deal with the rising number of wildfires. Photo by Chris Sherwin.

(Originally published at 10:55 a.m. MDT November 24, 2017)

The proposal would complement national assets and would be managed by the European Commission in order to support countries hit by disasters such as floods, forest fires, earthquakes and epidemics. Alone in 2017, over 200 people were killed by natural disasters in Europe and over one million hectares of forest have been destroyed.

President Jean-Claude Juncker said:

Europe can’t be on the side-lines when our Member States suffer from natural disasters and need help. No country in Europe is immune to natural disasters which have sadly become the new normal. When a disaster strikes, I want the European Union to offer more than condolences.

“rescEU” would create an EU civil protection response reserve of civil protection assets to assist Member States in responding to disasters, when national capacities are overwhelmed. rescEU would include assets, such as firefighting aircraft and water pumping equipment, to complement national capacities. All costs and capacities of rescEU would be fully covered by EU financing, with the Commission retaining the operational control of these assets and deciding on their deployment.

In parallel, the Commission would assist Member States to boost their national capacities, by financing the adaptation, repair, transport and operation costs of their existing resources – whereas today only transportation costs are covered. The assets would become part of a shared pool of emergency response resources under the European Civil Protection Pool, and would be made available for deployment when disaster strikes.

So far in 2017 over 200 people have been killed by natural disasters in Europe. Since 1980, as well as the human cost, EU Member States have lost over EUR 360 billion in weather and climate extreme events. In Portugal alone, the direct economic damage of forest fire events between June and September is estimated at close to EUR 600 million, representing 0.34% of Portugal’s Gross National Income.

Since its establishment in 2001, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism has monitored over 400 disasters and has received over 250 requests for assistance. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism can be activated in response to man-made and natural disasters, but also supports disaster preparedness and prevention.

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism includes all EU Member States as well as several other participating states outside the EU, namely, Iceland, Norway, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Turkey. rescEU would be extended to these participating states as a sign of European solidarity.

Wildfires in central Europe

Hot, dry weather over the last several weeks has led to numerous wildfires in central Europe, especially in Austria and southern Germany, Georg, one of our loyal readers in Germany tells us. Some of the fires are in steep terrain, he said. Thanks Georg!

He sent us some links to sites with photos and descriptions (in German) of recent wildfires. (Thankfully, the photos are in English 😉  )

  • Here’s one
  • At this fire there were about 250 firefighters and 50 soldiers.
  • About 680 firefighters were assigned to a third fire, along with 3 helicopters and 3 Single Engine Air Tankers.

The images below are screen grabs from the video you’ll see farther down.

fire Engine on road Firefighters along a fence

Firefighters refill a helicopter bucket
Firefighters use two hoses to refill the bucket of a hovering helicopter.
Firefighters refill a helicopter bucket
Firefighters use two hoses to refill the bucket of a hovering helicopter.

Google Translate took a stab at translating the description of the above video:

From the fire of pine forest between Wiener Neustadt and Weikersdorf was affected by the fire, said Alexander Nittner by the State Fire Command in Tulln: “The big challenge for the firefighters is that the wind constantly rotates, the approach is extremely difficult and already about 15 acres forest on fire. “by Thursday evening, the fire spread to an area of ​​20 hectares.