Scientific challenge

Why study temporary rivers?

Temporary (intermittent or ephemeral) rivers are ecologically important and under pressure but not well understood or protected.

They are hydrologically dynamic because they stop flowing at certain times and/or places, and ecologically diverse because they provide a range of habitats as they transition between terrestrial and aquatic states. However, despite being under pressure both from local artificial influences and climate change, they are widely under-represented in monitoring networks, mapping, river characterisation, protective legislation and drought and water resource assessment tools.

Project overview

ASTRID (Assessing Statistical models of Temporary River Intermittence for Decision makers) will identify useful metrics and develop models to provide a national picture of hydrological intermittence in the UK.

Using statistical modelling, the ASTRID project team at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) aims to improve the understanding of temporary rivers in the UK, and of their distribution and characteristics. The engagement of regulatory hydrologists, as primary decision-makers in the local management of water resources, is central in informing the development of the models, and in the selection of suitable output metrics to characterise intermittence.

The ASTRID objectives are:

  1. Engaging stakeholders in co-designing metrics relevant for decision-makers;
  2. Statistical modelling of intermittence in UK temporary rivers through training and validating;
  3. Mapping the characteristics of intermittence in UK temporary rivers.



ASTRID will assist stakeholders in the development of monitoring and assessment strategies for temporary rivers.

Towards the end of the project, UKCEH will meet with regulatory decision-makers to discuss the mapping results and seek views on the next steps for appropriate drought and water resource assessment. Resource-efficient monitoring of temporary rivers will be promoted in areas identified as priorities for data collection, through an existing citizen science initiative.


The project runs from 1 October 2019 until 31 March 2021.

Further information

Catherine Sefton
Water Resources Monitoring Specialist, Hydrological Status and Outlooks Group
UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8BB
Direct Tel: +44 (0)1491 692257. Email:

Principal Investigator: Dr Cecilia Svensson, Senior Research Hydrologist, UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

Funded under the NERC Landscape Decisions Programme, Grant number NE/T004215/1.