Flooding Oxford

The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is leading a new £500,000 study to scope the requirements for a national floods and droughts research infrastructure.

This Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) research infrastructure will provide data to improve our understanding of the hydrological processes leading to floods and droughts in the UK, and thereby improve predictability and increase resilience. Damage to UK properties and their contents due to river and tidal flooding is estimated to cost around £1 billion every year.

The 15-month consultative study, funded by a NERC grant, will get feedback from a broad range of stakeholders and sectors across the UK through questionnaires, interviews, meetings and workshops to gather the evidence for the subsequent Infrastructure investment.

Nick Reynard, Head of Hydro-climate Risks, and Dr Gwyn Rees, Head of Water Resources, at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) will lead the study, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Bristol, Imperial College London and the British Geological Survey.

There is a shortage of fundamental data to better understand the complex hydrological factors that determine the scale of extreme weather events - Nick Reynard

Nick Reynard says: “There is growing scientific evidence to suggest that the frequency and severity of extreme weather events are increasing due to environmental changes, including land use and climate change. However, at present, there is a shortage of fundamental data to better understand the complex hydrological factors that determine the scale of such events.

“By working with the research community, businesses, landowners, government agencies and regulators, we will better understand what data and monitoring are required to improve our understanding of these processes for better prediction and mitigation of floods and droughts, thereby increasing the UK’s resilience to them.”

The study will undertake a broad review of past and ongoing flood and drought monitoring programmes to better understand existing infrastructure in the UK and internationally. It will also consider the benefits of potential investments, such as the establishment of networks of sensors in catchments throughout the UK and the development of near-real time data to increase understanding of extreme hydrological events.

Dr Iain Williams, Director of Strategic Partnerships at NERC, says: “This is an exciting investment for NERC. Extensively scoping this programme and reaching out to a wide range of stakeholders with an interest in flood and drought resilience will enable us to understand and develop the case for further investments across all regions of the UK. Such long-term national infrastructure will help us meet the demands of adapting to a changing climate and improve the UK’s resilience to extreme hydrological events.”


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