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

Ganges river, India
Outputs of December 2015 Science Workshop
Flood risk map data product
Storm Desmond caused severe flooding across northern England
Ganges near Haridwar. Photo: Mike Acreman
UK-India workshop on future research needs to underpin sustainable management of the Ganga
Flooding damage amid poor housing
Reducing the risk of water-related disasters
River flow snapshot
October 2015 Monthly Hydrological Summary for the UK
FEH Supplementary Report cover
Online access replaces CD-ROM
Rainbow South Oxfordshire
A seasonal hydrological forecast for the UK
COSMOS station
Cosmic ray soil moisture monitoring network for the UK