Fuel structure effects on wildfire hazard assessments

Wildfire risk is changing in the UK. As the climate changes it is anticipated that the UK will experience longer periods of drier, hotter weather and that this will result in conditions that mean wildfire occurrence and fire danger will increase. Understanding these risks as they evolve will allow land managers and policy makers to respond with evidence-based decision making.

This project will explore the chemical, heat and mass transfer processes that govern the fire spread in natural fuels with a specific focus on fuels common to the UK. Of particular interest will be the effect of fuel structures on the processes of pyrolysis and heat transfer and the implications for wildfire hazard assessments (fire danger).

An experimental approach will be followed using the state-of-the-art facilities with in the Rushbrook Fire Laboratory at the University of Edinburgh and complimented with fieldwork to evaluate fire behaviour at field scale. Where appropriate, numerical modelling may be used to compliment the experimental work. The ultimate aim is to provide relationships between the fundamental transport processes which control the fire dynamics and measurable vegetation properties. 

The successful candidate will join a team of researchers working on the wildfire problem in the School of Engineering and will be supported by the wider fire research community within the University which comprises seven academics and approximately twenty full time researchers (PhD students and Postdoctoral Research Associates).

Applicants should be independent and self-motivated. A background in physics, chemical physics, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering or environmental engineering are appropriate for this position. Knowledge of heat and mass transport phenomena is required; experience of fire testing, though desirable, is by no means necessary. Experience with programming, data analysis, and laboratory diagnostics is required. 

Willingness to participate in fire spread fieldwork experiments is essential. 

Closing Date: 

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Principal Supervisor: 

Dr Rory Hadden


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


EPSRC funded (see EPSRC student eligibility).  Tuition fees + stipend available for Home students or EU students who have been resident in the UK for 3 years (International students not eligible).

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: