Seven ways to better manage flooding in the UK

Flooding in Corbridge

Flooding in Corbridge. Photo: Steve/Rescue Mission/Flickr

Professor Chris Kilsby comments on how to better prepare for and adapt to flooding in the UK.

There is no panacea for flood events, but there is a portfolio of measures we could either do better or should consider in mitigating or adapting to floods in the UK and countries throughout the world. The recent floods caused by Storm Desmond the first week of December 2015 were devastating on both sides of the Pennines. A record breaking 341mm of rain fell in 24 hours. Not only was the 24 hour rain fall record broken, but so was the 48 hour record at 405mm. The damages were significant with tens of thousands of people evacuating their homes, widespread power loss after two substations were flooded, and transport links lost across the region.

While the magnitude of the storm rainfall was extreme, what made the flood especially severe is that the previous two months were very wet. Extreme weather events like Storm Desmond tend not to occur in isolation and nor are they evenly spaced out. In Cumbria there had already been a cluster of previous storms and this was the big one.

To manage such large floods requires an understanding of the occurrence of sequences of intense rainfall and how they may be changing, but also of course learning to deal with the flood waters in ways that are affordable and sustainable.

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Floods: are we really at risk and what can we do about it?

Are we seeing more floods, or are the media just reporting them more? How at risk is the UK from future floods? We’ve all seen in recent years the devastation that floods can cause, and it seems as though these events are getting more frequent, but are they really?  Over the last ten years, northern England has been hit by a series of damaging floods, with the most recent occurring in March 2010. The topic of river floods is thus timely and of high socio-economic relevance.  From York in 2000 to Carlisle in 2005, Morpeth in 2008 to Cockermouth in 2009, damage to property and people’s everyday lives has been severe.

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