Doctor Hamish Clarke

Dr Hamish Clarke Dr Hamish Clarke joined the HIE as a Research Fellow in March 2016, in a joint position with the Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires at the University of Wollongong. He is currently working with Dr Matthias Boer (HIE) and Prof. Ross Bradstock (University of Wollongong) on a NSW Bushfire Risk Management Research Hub funded project that examines the effectiveness of prescribed burning in reducing a range of risks across NSW.

Dr Clarke works closely with industry and is committed to public interest science and collaborative, multidisciplinary projects that engage partners from project conception to completion and beyond.

Dr Clarke previously worked as Senior Climate and Atmospheric Scientist at the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. Dr Clarke completed his PhD in May 2015 at the Climate Change Research Centre, University of NSW (UNSW) under the supervision of Prof. Andy Pitman (UNSW) and Assoc. Prof Jason Evans (UNSW). His PhD research focused on the impact of climate change on bushfire weather conditions and fuel load.

Dr Clarke is co-convenor of Science at the Local, a community initiative bringing people and scientists together in the Blue Mountains. He is also creator of the Four Friends of Fire, an engaging animation series on the basics of bushfire science.

Dr Clarke is a member of the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management and a Research Fellow of the Earth System Governance Project. Hamish is a former Deputy Chair and executive member of the Australian Academy of Science's Early- and Mid-Career Researcher Forum (EMCR Forum), the voice of Australia's emerging scientists.

Four Friends Of Fire

The Four Friends Of Fire animation was developed by local community science initiative Science at the Local in collaboration with Blue Mountains-based designer David Shooter and Wollongong animation studio Rockshelf Productions.

Areas of research/teaching expertise

Dr Clarke is interested in the drivers of bushfire risk and the impacts of planned and unplanned fire, both currently and under climate change. His work is at the intersection of climatology and fire ecology.

Projects include trends and drivers of historical fire activity, the projected influence of climate change on dangerous fire weather conditions, climate model evaluation, ignition modelling, Bayesian analysis of prescribed burning effectiveness and climate change effects on prescribed burning weather conditions.

He uses observations and modelling approaches to understand past and future changes in the fundamental drivers of fire: fuel load, fuel moisture, fire weather and ignitions. This requires a combination of statistical, data management and scientific computing techniques, including running regional climate models, land surface models and fire behaviour simulators.

Awards and recognition

  • 2019 Best poster at the International Fire Behaviour and Fuels Conference
  • 2015 OEH Outstanding Professional Service Awards - Excellence in Innovation or Process Improvement - NSW and ACT Regional Climate Modelling Project and Adapt NSW Delivery
  • 2013 Best Short Presentation, ICYESS 2013 Annual Conference
    2006 University Medal, University of Sydney


  • NSW Bushfire Risk Management Research Hub (2018-2022) Cost-effective fire management, Work Package 6 Optimising cost-effective bushfire risk mitigation via planned burning
  • BNHCRC (2015-2018) From hectares to tailor-made solutions for risk mitigation: systems to deliver effective prescribed burning across Australian ecosystems
  • Emergency Management NSW (2010-11) NSW & ACT Regional Climate Modelling Project: evaluation of bushfire weather simulations

Selected publications

Bendall ER, Bedward M, Boer M, Clarke H, Collins L, Leigh A, Bradstock RA, (2022) 'Mortality and resprouting responses in forest trees driven more by tree and ecosystem characteristics than drought severity and fire frequency', Forest Ecology and Management, vol.509, Article no.120070

Griebel A, Metzen D, Pendall E, Nolan RH, Clarke H, Renchon AA, Boer MM, (2022) 'Recovery from Severe Mistletoe Infection After Heat- and Drought-Induced Mistletoe Death', Ecosystems, vol.25, pp 1-16

Collins L, Bradstock RA, Clarke H, Clarke MF, Nolan RH, Penman TD, (2021) 'The 2019/2020 mega-fires exposed Australian ecosystems to an unprecedented extent of high-severity fire', Environmental Research Letters, no.16, Article no.044029

Nolan RH, Bowman DMJS, Clarke H, Haynes K, Ooi MKJ, Price OF, Williamson GJ, Whittaker J, Bedward M, Boer MM, Cavanagh VI, Collins L, Gibson RK, Griebel A, Jenkins ME, Keith DA, McIlwee, Penman TD, Samson SA, Tozer MG, Bradstock RA, (2021) 'What do the Australian black summer fires signify for the global fire crisis?', Fire, vol.4, no.4, Article no.97

Bradstock RA, Nolan RH, Collins L, Resco de Dios V, Clarke H, Jenkins M, Kenny B, Boer MM, (2020) 'A broader perspective on the causes and consequences of eastern Australia's 2019-20 season of mega-fires: A response to Adams et al.', Global Change Biology, vol.26, no.7, pp E8-E9

Cirulis B, Clarke H, Boer MM, Penman T, Price O, Bradstock R, (2020) 'Quantification of inter-regional differences in risk mitigation from prescribed burning across multiple management values', International Journal of Wildland Fire, vol.29, no.s 4-5, pp 414-426

Clarke H, Penman T, Boer M, Cary GJ, Fontaine JB, Price O, Bradstock R, (2020) 'The Proximal Drivers of Large Fires: A Pyrogeographic Study', Frontiers in Earth Science, vol.8, Article no.90

Di Virgilio G, Evans JP, Clarke H, Sharples J, Hirsch AL, Hart MA, (2020) 'Climate Change Significantly Alters Future Wildfire Mitigation Opportunities in Southeastern Australia', Geophysical Research Letters, vol.47, no.15, Article no.e2020GL088893

Nolan RH, Boer MM, Collins L, de Dios VR, Clarke H, Jenkins M, Kenny B, Bradstock RA, (2020) 'Causes and consequences of eastern Australia's 2019–20 season of mega‐fires', Global Change Biology, vol.26, no.3, pp 1039-1041

Clarke H, Tran B, Boer MM, Price O, Kenny B, Bradstock R, (2019) 'Climate change effects on the frequency, seasonality and interannual variability of suitable prescribed burning weather conditions in south-eastern Australia', Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, vol.271, pp 148-157

Price OF, Penman TD, Bradstock RA, Boer MM, Clarke H, (2015) 'Biogeographical variation in the potential effectiveness of prescribed fire in south-eastern Australia', Journal of Biogeography, vol.42, no.11, pp 2234-2245

Bradstock R, Penman T, Boer M, Price O, Clarke H, (2014) 'Divergent responses of fire to recent warming and drying across south-eastern Australia', Global Change Biology, vol.20, no.5, pp 1412-1428

Clarke H, Evans JP, Pitman AJ, (2013) 'Fire weather simulation skill by the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model over southeast Australia from 1985 to 2009', International Journal of Wildland Fire, vol.22, pp 739-756

Clarke H, Smith PL, Lucas C, (2012) 'Changes in Australian fire weather between 1973 and 2010', International Journal of Climatology, vol.33, pp 931-944

Clarke H, Smith P, Pitman AJ, (2011) 'Regional signatures of future fire weather over eastern Australia from global climate models', International Journal of Wildland Fire, vol.20, pp 550-562