Landslides, flooding and climate change in the UK
20 August 2004
The Natural Environment Research Council is conducting research into landslides, rainfall, flood estimations and climate change throughout the UK. We can provide scientists and researchers to speak on these and related issues.
For more information or to arrange an interview contact the NERC Press Office.
- Boscastle flood
- Extreme rainfall leading to flooding and the influence of climate change
- Newsflash - Flood Risk during Extreme Events (FREE) £10m programme given go ahead in June 2004
- Landslides in Scotland
- Flood risk and flood forecasting
- Rapid climate change
NERC's British Geological Survey (BGS)
The flood occurred as the result of a prolonged and heavy rainstorm, that was almost stationary over the catchment of the River Valency. Both the main river and its tributaries flow in steep sided valleys beneath a plateau rising to some 160m in height. The underlying strata are mostly shales and slate, with some sandstone beds which break down in weathering to give clay-rich soils. These geological features contribute, together with the landforms, to high levels of runoff in storm conditions.
The possible influence of landslips as contributors to the flood is being investigated by Alan Forster and Andrew Gibson at BGS in Nottingham. The British Geological Survey has a computer model, as part of its national assessment of geohazards called GeoSure, to predict the risk of landslips from local geology, gradients and landscape.
A NERC aircraft will fly over the Boscastle region in the next few days photographing and gathering more information on the event.
British Geological Survey, Exeter, can provide a full range of geological information to enquirers, and will be happy to deal with these directly or to advise contact with the appropriate experts within the organisation.
Dr Alan Forster is based at the British Geological Survey in Nottingham and is available for interviews.
NERC Centres for Atmospheric Science
The Boscastle flood resulted from a line of convective storms along the north Cornish coast. High resolution weather forecast models are able to capture this type of development and, in principle, provide several hours' warning. One problem is to be able to predict the precise location of the initiation of the most intense storm in the line. NERC-funded scientists are carrying out research in the Convective Storms Initiation Project (CSIP), to examine this problem. A first field campaign has taken place this summer in southern England involving state-of-the art measuring techniques with radars, lidars, aircraft and other instruments. The research involves examining where and how convective clouds form and develop into storms. This will help us to better understand the phenomena and develop better ways of forecasting them.
Under conditions of global and regional warming from climate change, a key question is whether the frequency and/or intensity of convective storms leading to flooding will increase or not. Current climate prediction models do not have adequate resolution to describe such local storms explicitly so at the moment there is large uncertainty in our understanding and forecasts of what to expect. Research by NERC scientists, in collaboration with the Met Office's Hadley Centre, are addressing these issues by using higher resolution climate models using the Japanese Earth Simulator supercomputer
Professor Alan Thorpe, Director, NERC Centres for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) is available for interview.
Alan can talk knowledgeably about extreme weather events, short-term forecasting and what level of warning could be given. He can also talk about climate change generally and what we can expect in the future.
NCAS has been working closely with the Met Office on observational weather
research and high resolution modelling to improve short-term forecasts
on storms like the one at Boscastle, Cornwall.
Met Office Press Officer
Tel: 01392 884629 or
Mob: 07753 880687
NERC has agreed to provide initial funding of around £10m for a major new programme - Flood Risk during Extreme Events (FREE).
The recent landslides on the A85, and A9 north of Dunkeld, are more examples of the result of high intensity rainfall events. BGS Scotland is arranging to speak to the Scottish Executive's Chief Road Engineer regarding the increased risks from geohazards on trunk roads throughout Scotland.
BGS's GeoSure project will help predict regions most at risk. Some areas will become more prone to landslides, for instance where slopes are covered by ground that is very porous and the rain can saturate it very quickly. If we know the places most at risk we can use that information to plan for the future and avoid the danger areas, or put in protection systems if economically viable or add the information to the early warning system to give people ample time for evacuation.
Martin Smith, BGS Edinburgh is available for interview.
Centre For Ecology & Hydrology (CEH)
Head of Hydrological Modelling & Forecasting Group, Bob Moore, at
CEH Wallingford in Oxfordshire is available to talk about flood risks
and real-time flood forecasting. The physics of climate change imply
these events will become more frequent and more extreme.
Contact: Bob Moore
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
Dr Meric Srokosz
Dr Howard Cattle
Head of the world climate research programme for climate variability and predictability
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
NERC Press Office
Natural Environment Research Council
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
Swindon, SN2 1EU
Tel: 01793 411561
Mob: 07917 557215
Press release: 25/04
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