Available translations: Not specified

The UK’s water resources outlook is very healthy but there is a high risk of further flooding according to the latest update to the UK’s most authoritative analysis of water resources status.

December 2012 flooding and damage, Exbridge, Devon. Photo: Heather Lowther

The analysis is contained in the latest monthly hydrological summary for the UK, covering the month of December 2012. The monthly summaries are produced by the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme, operated by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) in conjunction with the British Geological Survey.

Jamie Hannaford, from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said, “The water resources outlook for 2013 is very healthy but, with soils saturated across the UK, there is high risk of further flooding in the late winter and early spring of 2013. With several months of the recharge season left, and a considerable amount of water still draining through the unsaturated zone, more extensive groundwater flooding is probable given the high levels in our chalk aquifers.”

The latest Monthly Hydrological Summary for the UK gives details of:

  • Groundwater levels: aquifer levels in most boreholes were exceptionally high in late December
  • Rainfall: 2012 is the wettest year on record for England, despite the severe drought conditions during the first three months, a testament to the exceptional nature of the rainfall received since April
  • River flows: the Ythan (Aberdeenshire) registered its highest peak flow in a record from 1983 and the Coln (Cotswolds) reached a new maximum in a record from 1963
  • River flows: the total annual outflows from England & Wales for 2012 were the second highest on record (after 2000) in a series from 1961
  • Reservoir stocks: highest on record in England & Wales for early January (since 1990)

A PDF of the full 12-page December 2012 summary can be downloaded here

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology jointly operates the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme (for the UK) 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 UK’s National River Flow archive. The NHMP also has a remit to analyse major flood and drought events in the UK and analyse long term trends in UK hydrological data. The UK Monthly Hydrological Summary is published on, or before, the tenth working day, of the following month.

Additional information

Read the full December 2012 Hydrological Summary for the UK [PDF, 4.85mb]

Hydrological summary archive - dating back to December 1988

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.