Floods are becoming a matter of increased concern for the UK. They can damage infrastructure, destroy entire fields of crops and force thousands of people from their homes. They are also expensive, with river flooding alone costing Britain about £475 million per year.

Recent years have seen some particularly extreme flooding events. 2007 saw the most serious inland flooding in 60 years, and the 2014 floods were caused by the wettest December and January ever recorded. Storms will only get more frequent and more severe with climate change, making better forecasting a priority.

Simply speaking, floods are the uncharacteristic covering of land with water. While bodies of water normally change size, the increased flow is not considered to be a flood unless there is significant damage. There are numerous kinds of flood named after the location of the flood, such as:

  • river, or ‘fluvial’, floods - water bursts the banks.
  • coastal floods -  too much sea water.
  • urban flooding - caused by a lack of drainage in cities. 

CEH work on flooding


Monitoring sites

FEH web service
Industry standard methods for assessing flood risk in the UK
Flood Estimation Handbook
Estimates flood risk in order to develop resilient infrastructure
River flows from the September 2017 UK hydrological summary
River flows generally in the normal range or above across the UK
Flooded road sign
International podcast discusses flooding and hydrology with CEH scientist
UK river flows in August 2017 hydrological summary
Groundwater levels remain below normal in areas despite wet summer
Cattle and people on dry ground
HydroSOS - pilot system for warning millions around the world of flood and drought situations
River in Wroclaw, Poland
Reviewing implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive
Raindrops on a pond
Assessment of summer 2017 UK hydrological situation