Floods are becoming a matter of increased concern for the UK. They can damage infrastructure, destroy entire fields of crops and force thousands of people from their homes. They are also expensive, with river flooding alone costing Britain about £475 million per year.

Recent years have seen some particularly extreme flooding events. 2007 saw the most serious inland flooding in 60 years, and the 2014 floods were caused by the wettest December and January ever recorded. Storms will only get more frequent and more severe with climate change, making better forecasting a priority.

Simply speaking, floods are the uncharacteristic covering of land with water. While bodies of water normally change size, the increased flow is not considered to be a flood unless there is significant damage. There are numerous kinds of flood named after the location of the flood, such as:

  • river, or ‘fluvial’, floods - water bursts the banks.
  • coastal floods -  too much sea water.
  • urban flooding - caused by a lack of drainage in cities. 

CEH work on flooding


Monitoring sites

FEH web service
Industry standard methods for assessing flood risk in the UK
Flood Estimation Handbook
Estimates flood risk in order to develop resilient infrastructure
Soil Moisture Deficits
September 2016 Hydrological Summary for the UK
India-UK Water Security Centre
A major water research initiative between UK and India researchers launches today
Borrowdale, Lake District. Photo by Andy Sier
Integrating data, models and scientific knowledge on natural capital to support research and decision-making
UK river flows in the June 2016 hydrological summary
June 2016 Hydrological Summary for the UK
Dr Toby Marthews, a land surface modeller at CEH, speaks at the High Impact Weather conference
CEH scientists at 3-day conference
Water, People and Cooperation, UNESCO water programme book
CEH water research closely related to international agendas