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

August 2015 river flows in the UK
August 2015 hydrological summary for the UK
July 2015 river flows in the UK
July 2015 hydrological summary for the UK
Campbell-Stokes Sunshine Recorder at CEH's Wallingford meteorological station
Providing daily data from our met station in Oxfordshire
Men's road cycling race during wet conditions in Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games
Report is published on an approach trialed during Glasgow Commonwealth Games
Weir Photo: Shutterstock
The UK’s focal point for river flow data
Meteorological equipment
Long-term weather monitoring to develop understanding of hydrometeorological systems
River Thames and countryside near Oxfordshire, photo by Shutterstock
A consistent assessment of climate change impacts across Great Britain
Flooding in Chalgrove, Oxfordshire, February 2014.  Photo: Julia Lawrence
'Extraordinary' combination of types and severity of floods