Floods and droughts have dramatic consequences for UK homes and businesses: annual damage to UK properties and their contents due to river and tidal flooding is estimated to total approximately £1 billion. Despite the wide-ranging effects of such extreme hydrological events, businesses, industry and researchers lack much of the fundamental data required to fully understand the long-term impacts, as well as the underlying environmental conditions that may exacerbate or limit their occurrence.

A consortium led by UKCEH began a 15-month study in May 2020 to scope the requirements for a new national Floods and Droughts Research Infrastructure. This £500k investment seeks to understand the data that are required to improve the prediction and mitigation of floods and droughts nationally, and the infrastructure required to enable these measurements to increase the UK’s resilience to such events.

The scoping study will be consultative, collecting views via webinars and workshops from a broad range of stakeholders and end-users, including academics, businesses, landowners, government and regulatory agencies. The study will undertake a broad review of past and ongoing flood and drought monitoring programmes to better understand existing infrastructure both in the UK and internationally. It will also consider the benefits of potential investments, such as establishing networks of sensors in catchments and the development of near-real time data, to increase understanding of extreme hydrological events.

Dr Nick Reynard (Head of Hydroclimate Risks) and Dr Gwyn Rees (Head of Water Resources) from UKCEH will lead the study, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Bristol, Imperial College London, and the British Geological Survey (BGS).