Flood Risk Management is currently a key focus of many national and international research programmes with flooding from rivers, estuaries and the sea posing a serious threat to millions of people around the world during a period of extreme climate variability.
In 1953 a North Sea storm surge induced coastal floods that caused 2000 deaths across the UK, The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. In more recent times, many deaths have occurred across the EU countries attributable to both flash and pluvial floods, in addition to those resulting from the more usual cause of fluvial or river flooding.
Over 12% of the population of the United Kingdom live on fluvial flood plains or areas identified as being subject to the risk of coastal flooding and about half the population of The Netherlands live below mean sea level. In Hungary about 25% of the population live on the floodplain of the River Danube and its tributaries.
Across all mountainous areas of Europe, populations are at risk of flash floods, the most recent UK occurrence of this being Boscastle in the South West of England in 2005. In 2007, the Summer flooding of June and July caused more than £3.5 billions worth of damage and, for the UK alone, the total value of assets at risk from flooding now exceeds £238 billion.
This interdisciplinary research Consortium focuses on some of the more recently identified strategic research investigating the prediction and management of flood risk and is the primary UK academic response to this challenge.
Sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Research Council (EPSRC) under Grant EP/FO20511/1, with additional funding from the EA/Defra (Joint Defra/EA Flood and Coastal Erosion Management R&D Programme), the Northern Ireland Rivers Agency (DARDNI) and Office of Public Works (OPW), Dublin, it is the 2nd phase of the Flood Risk Management Research Consortium (FRMRC), the 1st phase of which was originally launched in February 2004. The concept lying behind this innovative joint funding arangement is that it allows the Consortium to combine the strengths of fundamental and near-market researchers and research philosophies in a truly multi-disciplinary programme.
It has been formulated to address key issues in flood science and engineering and the portfolio of research includes the short-term delivery of tools and techniques to support more accurate flood forecasting and warning, improvements to flood management infrastructure and reduction of flood risk to people, property and the environment.
A particular feature of the 2nd phase is the concerted effort to focus on coastal and urban flooding. In addition, the Consortium continues to provide internationally leading research in the area of Land Use Management in the context of the generation of floods during extreme rainfall.
The establishment of this programme of original and high-quality science will enhance our understanding of flooding and improve our ability to reduce flood risk through the development of sustainable flood management strategies.
Professor Ian Cluckie
This 2nd phase of FRMRC is currently funded from 1 October 2007 until 31 December 2011.