September saw a continuation of the marked spatial variation in rainfall across the UK which has been featured throughout 2011. The lowest monthly rainfall totals coincided with those areas for which long-term rainfall deficiencies were already substantial. There was, therefore, little amelioration of drought conditions in affected areas of England. October 2010 to September 2011 rainfall averages © NERC (CEH) 2011 © Crown copyright

The above analysis is contained within the latest monthly hydrological summary (for September 2011) produced by the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme, operated by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in conjunction with the British Geological Survey.

The summary reports that September river flows and groundwater levels were below average across much of the English lowlands. Substantial long-term runoff deficiencies continue to develop in many index rivers, particularly in the Midlands and south west. The drought continues to exert stress on the aquatic environment: dry wells, springs and ponds were reported from parts of the Midlands and East Anglia, whilst the dry soils posed problems to farmers lifting crops.

The spatial contrast in long-term rainfall receipt is also reflected in reservoir stocks – stocks are healthy in Scotland and Wales, whilst early October stocks were substantially below average in parts of southern England and the Midlands.

Jamie Hannaford, from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said, “With the dry episode of the last week persisting into October, and notably dry soils for the time of year across much of England, the seasonal recovery in river flows and groundwater levels is likely to be delayed into the winter unless significantly above average rainfall occurs in the late autumn.”

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology jointly operates the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme (NHMP) in conjunction with the British Geological Survey. NHMP scientists produce the UK Monthly Hydrological Summary which assesses rainfall, river flows, groundwater and reservoir levels. They also operate the National River Flow archive. The NHMP has a remit to analyse major flood and drought events in the UK and analyse long term trends in UK hydrological data. The Programme was set up in 1988 and relies on the active co-operation of measuring authorities throughout the UK.

Additional information

Read the full September 2011 Hydrological Summary for the UK [PDF, 2.45mb]

Hydrological summary archive - dating back to March 1997

Details of the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme

Datasets hosted by CEH: National River Flow Archive, National Water Archive and others

Media enquiries related to the Hydrological Summaries should be directed to the CEH Press Office. Our scientists can provide explanation and analysis of historic hydrological patterns, possible future scenarios under climate change and scientific understanding of the current situation. We are not able to comment on immediate operational issues.

If you wish to reproduce figures from the Monthly Hydrological Summary please respect the copyright credits contained within the document.




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