Flood estimation: a risky business
18 February 2000
A new handbook for estimating the frequency of floods for any site in the UK is being launched.
A new handbook for estimating the frequency of floods for any site in the UK is being launched at a special event at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London on Wednesday, 23 February 2000 by MAFF Fisheries and Countryside Minister Elliot Morley, Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for flood and coastal defence issues.
The publication of the Flood Estimation Handbook is the culmination of an extensive five-year research programme funded by MAFF at the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), Wallingford. The techniques for estimating flood frequency contained in the Handbook also include computer software and extensive data sets to help apply the new procedures. Building on the existing and internationally respected Flood Studies Report, CEH scientists have developed new ways of bringing together their improved understanding of the behaviour of river basins with use of digital map data and innovative advanced statistical techniques.
"Flooding is one of the top natural disrupters of our society, often resulting in massive expenditure through insurance claims," said Prof George Fleming, President of the Institution of Civil Engineers. "My Institution is delighted to support the launch of the Flood Estimation Handbook as an important tool in mitigating the effects of floods on our communities. It updates knowledge gained over the last 30 years and should enable us to build better in the future with less risk."
Some £250m is spent each year improving river and sea defences to protect people and property from floods. Although we cannot prevent the natural weather extremes which lead to flooding, scientists strive for better ways to estimate flood risk and likely severity. The aims are high: to try and reduce the impact of the events such as the exceptionally damaging flooding in the south Midlands over Easter 1998 or the December 1994 floods in Glasgow - insurance claims for which are known to exceed £100m.
CEH Institute of Hydrology, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BB
Tel: 01491 692228 (office)
or 01491 651441 (home)
NERC Press Office
Natural Environment Research Council
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
Swindon, SN2 1EU
Tel: 01793 411561
Mob: 07917 557215
1. Flood frequency estimates and guidance on rainfall probabilities are required for the planning and assessment of flood defences, and the design of other structures such as bridges, culverts and reservoir spillways. There is also an increasing demand for estimates to form the basis of flood risk maps, which are important in the planning of new developments and the emergency responses to flooding. The FEH also provides methods for assessing the rarity of notable rainfalls or floods, which are of interest to insurers. The research for the Flood Estimation Handbook was undertaken at the Institute of Hydrology, Wallingford, part of the Natural Environment Research Council's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
2. A technical presentation on The Flood Estimation Handbook will be given to an invited audience at the Institution of Civil Engineers, 1 Great George Street, Westminster, at 11.45 a.m. on 23rd February, to which media representatives are cordially invited. At the presentation, complimentary copies of the FEH will be given to Mr Morley and Professor Fleming for the Library of the Institution, who are kindly hosting the event. A buffet lunch will be served, with opportunities for interviews and computer demonstrations of the FEH techniques.
3. The £1·7m FEH research programme was co-funded by MAFF, the Environment Agency, DANI and a consortium led by the Scottish Executive. Indirect support was provided by the Meteorological Office and river gauging authorities.
4. NERC is the leading body in the UK for research, survey, monitoring and training in the environmental sciences. NERC funds research in universities and in its own Centres and Surveys. NERC trains scientists for the future -more than 3,000 postgraduate students have been funded by NERC over the last five years.
Press release: 02/00
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