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The CEH-led SUNRISE programme, which focuses on parts of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, is delivering scientific evidence and advice that will improve people’s livelihoods, health and well-being. Through SUNRISE we provide capacity-building and training that will help national and local stakeholders.

As part of our SUNRISE activities, Lisa Stewart, Adam Griffin, Harry Dixon, Lucy Barker and Simon Parry from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology recently organised a workshop on flood and drought estimation in Mumbai involving stakeholders from across India with the aim of building new links and identifying key areas for action. Adam Griffin tells us more…

We held a three-day workshop on Improving Flood and Drought Estimation and Prediction in Data Sparse Regions at IIT Bombay from 26-28 November 2018, co-convened by CEH with Professor Arpita Mondal and the Maharashtra Engineering Research Institute.

UK and Indian scientists seated around a table

Flood and drought hazards

The Indian monsoon season is crucial to many aspects of agriculture and the economy in much of peninsular India. But Mumbai has been hit by several large floods in the last 15 years. Conversely, nearly half of the administrative districts in Maharashtra State declared a drought in 2018, with a similar situation occurring only two years previously. The worst drought in 40 years occurred in 2013.

We believe that the ability to monitor and estimate the severity and frequency of floods and droughts is vital for adequately designing infrastructure and developing management plans to mitigate their impacts. Research to better understand flood and drought hazards and to develop tools for improved monitoring is crucial to improve and inform such projects and procedures.

UK-India workshop

The workshop held in November 2018 brought together a wide range of academic, industrial and governmental stakeholders to discuss the current issues in flood and drought estimation, prediction and monitoring in India, and more specifically in the state of Maharashtra. It focused on the following questions:

  • What methods are currently being used in flood frequency estimation and drought monitoring?
  • What information do practitioners and policy makers need? Who are these key practitioners, and how can they be engaged?
  • What are key drought indicators and impacts needed to better understand and monitor droughts?
  • How can research and practice work together more closely in identifying issues for research and development?
  • How are climate and anthropogenic change affecting floods and droughts in the region? What will the needs of the future be like?

The workshop featured presentations from prominent academics and stakeholders in the field, and from members of the organising institutes. Speakers introduced state-of-the-art research from both the UK and India, including details of India’s first real-time integrated flood forecasting system in Chennai, as well as current practices and future needs for flood and drought management.

Meanwhile the importance of non-stationarity in flood risk estimation was highlighted in talks by Prof Arpita Mondal of IIT Bombay and myself, when I spoke about the peak flow data held by the UK National River Flow Archive.

Besides formal presentations, fruitful discussion sessions allowed delegates from both countries to share thoughts and knowledge directly. See the agenda below for more details of sessions over the three days.

The workshop will enable more research and several collaboration opportunities. As part of SUNRISE, we plan to hold further events to share knowledge and develop deeper links between CEH and Indian researchers on these topics.

In particular, the issue of interacting directly with farmers in measuring indicators and communicating drought predictions is one of specific interest. Another key observation was that hydrological models can be restricted by the poor performance of meteorological modelling of the monsoon season, which makes flood prediction difficult.

Adam Griffin

Attending organisations

  • Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
  • Commissionerate of Agriculture, Pune
  • Digital India Corporation (with ITRA-Water)
  • Hydrology Project, Maharashtra
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay
  • Indian Meteorological Department, Pune
  • Maharashtra Engineering Research Institute
  • National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee
  • PoCRA
  • TCS Innovation Lab
  • Water Resources Department, Nashik

Workshop Agenda

  • Day 1
    • Keynote speeches on the state of flood frequency estimation (Prof TI Eldho, IITB) and drought management in India (Dr T Thomas, NIH)
    • Further presentations on SUNRISE, flood frequency estimation (Adam Griffin, Lisa Stewart, CEH), potential evapotranspiration (Mr Pulak G, IMD), and flood zone marking (Ms KL Bendale, MERI).
    • Panel discussion on the critical issues and science gaps in flood frequency estimation, particularly in Maharashtra.
  • Day 2: Floods
    • Presentations on urban flood forecasting (Prof S Ghosh, IITB), and non-stationarity in flood frequency estimation (Prof A Mondal, IITB).
    • Group breakout session on stakeholder perspectives and practitioner needs.
    • Discussion on future engagement of stakeholders by the academic community.
  • Day 3: Droughts
    • Presentations on drought information services (Prof PS Roy), drought monitoring in the UK and India (Lucy Barker, CEH; Gopal Chavan, PoCRA), and perspectives in engaging stakeholders to promote monitoring (Dr G Amarnath, IWMI/CGIAR).
    • Breakout session on drought indicators and impacts, and stakeholder and practitioner needs.


This workshop was held as part of CEH's SUNRISE programme which is developing new hydro-climatic science and services for water management. The three-year programme is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council as part of a National Capability Long-Term Science award.

People standing at a flipchart

If you are interested in seeing the presentations given at the workshop, please contact Adam Griffin, who can share the slides with you.