Large Area Fires
PhD opportunity, Prof John Dold

please contact Prof Dold to apply for this position


PhD Study of Large Area Fires

Prof John Dold, School of Mathematics, University of Manchester.

A fully-funded opportunity is available to study for a PhD degree in the modelling of large area fires. When vegetation, or any fuel, is burning in an open area of terrain, strong convection columns can develop. These columns serve to draw fresh air into the fire while potentially lofting combustion products to great altitudes where they can lead to significant further atmospheric interactions.

Applications are encouraged from candidates with a good first degree in a relevant discipline, particularly in mathematics, physics or engineering, with an interest in learning to formulate and study mathematical models of physical processes.

Full funding is available for up to three and a half years at the standard DTA rate (currently fees plus 12940 per annum) for candidates of UK nationality. In addition a well qualified candidate will be awarded an extra 2000 per annum.

The student will join an active research group in Manchester which is studying fires and combustion and will have the opportunity to learn about many aspects of fire behaviour, beyond the immediate topic of the PhD study. This will include the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in experimental burn programmes and to learn of the practical needs and difficulties faced by firefighters in tackling wildfires.

Contact Prof John Dold, preferably by e-mail john.dold@man.ac.uk (or at the address below) to apply for this position. Applications should be made before 18th July 2008.

No application form is required at this stage, but please provide full information about yourself, type and level of degree awarded or expected, as well as the names and e-mail addresses of two referees who are willing to comment on your academic work and your ability to conduct a PhD study.

Prof John Dold
School of Mathematics
University of Manchester
Manchester M13 9PL


Bushfires or wildfires are of great importance ecologically, affecting habitat, flora and climate, as well as economically. Fires last year in Greece and California caused losses in excess of US$3bn. With global warming they are showing signs of increasing in frequency and severity, while also probably making the problem worse. They can become very hazardous to life and property if they are not controlled.

Along with collaborators in Manchester and overseas, Prof Dold is studying many aspects of wildfire behaviour.

A bushfire normally spreads as a fireline. The flames above the fireline cause fresh vegetation to be heated, mainly by radiation, until it ignites and so moves the fireline forwards. The way in which this happens is strongly influenced by wind and slope.

Some background information on bushfires can be seen via this link and a lecture by Prof Dold on some basic bushfire modelling can be found via this link.


There are several other project topics. To give a flavour, two possible topics are: