ACEMS Virtual Public Lecture - A Song of Wind & Fire: a statistical journey through an uncertain world


Wednesday 14 July, 12pm-1pm AEST


Online. Please register below to receive the zoom link.


Register here


Dr Rachael Quill

In this lecture, ACEMS Associate Investigator Dr Rachael Quill will explore how shedding light on the uncertainties of wind flow across the environment can support informed decision-making in bushfire management and renewable energy generation.

The weather and its uncertainties influence our decisions every day. Did you take an umbrella today, just in case, or did you get caught in that shower? In many scenarios, being unprepared for the unknown might only mean a dampening of our pride. But in others, the cost of not understanding uncertainty can be catastrophic.

Extreme fire behaviours are being witnessed at an increasing rate across Australia and the world. Such behaviours were recorded in 2003 as fires rushed from the mountains into the suburbs of Canberra, destroying 500 homes and sadly claiming 4 lives. Nearly two decades of scientific research since then has pushed the boundaries of our understanding in fire dynamics, bushfire prediction and emergency management. In this lecture, we will explore how improving the understanding of uncertainties around fire behaviour enables more informed fire management through seeing a fuller picture of an event.

The principles of accounting for uncertainty translate into many different fields. In the second half of this lecture, we will explore this notion in relation to renewable energy. Integrating renewable and intermittent power into national electricity grids is a global challenge in the pursuit of lowering our carbon emissions. Enabling accurate and timely prediction of resources, such as wind, involves understanding its inherent variability then communicating and accounting for uncertainty in prediction.

In a world where hard decisions must be made to address global challenges, we need to ensure those decisions are made knowing the fullest picture possible. Through shedding light on the grey areas of uncertainty, you may still choose not to take your umbrella but you at least do it in full knowledge of your risk of getting wet.


About the speaker

Dr Rachael Quill, is an Associate Investigator with ACEMS, and has recently been appointed as Forecast System Developer at Weatherzone.

Formerly a Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne, her key research interests lie within applied statistics and the analysis of environmental data. Rachael studied for her PhD at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra. Her thesis, ‘Statistical characterisation of wind fields over complex terrain for bushfire modelling applications’, had particular focus on the impacts of surface roughness on wind fields as well as the development of probabilistic approaches to handle uncertainty in fire modelling. 

Rachael holds an MSci in Mathematics and Statistics from Lancaster University in the UK, during which she took part in a 12-month exchange program to the Australian National University (ANU). Her Honours thesis considered dynamic modelling of wind speeds for analysis of wind power. Following her undergraduate studies, Rachael relocated to Australia and completed a multidisciplinary Masters program at the ANU, covering topics from computer science to meteorology.