Flood MEMORY: Multi-Event Modelling of Risk and Recovery

Project Funder: EPSRC

Lead Organisation: University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Project Duration: 3 years

Project team / collaborators

Dr J Lamond, UWE Bristol
Professor C Kilsby, Newcastle University
Professor C Beck, Queen Mary, University of London
Dr R Briganti, University of Nottingham
Dr J Brown, National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool
Dr I Haigh, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton
Dr H Haynes, Heriot-Watt University
Dr H Karunarathna, Swansea University
Dr Q Liang, Newcastle University
Dr D Pokrajac, University of Aberdeen
Professor S White, Cranfield University, Bedford

Project aims

To investigate the effects of temporal clustering of flood events on natural built and socio-economic systems with memory, in order to identify critical vulnerabilities, better allocate resources for protection and recovery and improve flood resilience.

Project summary

The project will look at the most critical flood scenarios caused by sequences or clusters of extreme weather events striking vulnerable systems of flood defences, urban areas, communities and businesses. The project will analyse and simulate situations where a second flood may strike before coastal or river defences have been reinstated after damage, or householders and small businesses are in a vulnerable condition recovering from the first flood. By examining such events and identifying the worst case scenarios, we hope our findings will lead to enhanced flood resilience and better allocation of resources for protection and recovery. Ultimately the processes developed could be used worldwide.

Changes in the frequency and severity of flooding are under close scrutiny due to increased storminess in projections of future climate. The project will look at observed records of storms and try to understand how clustering may obscure or even exacerbate any climate induced changes. This is crucial for designing flood defence schemes now, which will operate for decades into the future, as current methods of estimating risk in a stationary climate do not fully account for the observed clustering of flood events and possible changes in variability.

Other aspects of the project will look at how coasts (beaches, dunes and engineered defences) and rivers behave during storms. Of particular interest is the effect of previous storms and floods moving sediment (ie shingle, sand and river bed material) so that the beach or river is in a different (perhaps weaker) condition when a second flood event arrives. The movement of sediment is difficult to predict as mostly happens during storms, so our knowledge of these processes is currently lacking.

Project outcomes

The project will:

  • develop detailed models of key components of flood systems
  • develop integrated models of flood systems extending the concept of fragility curves to human and economic systems
  • investigate the role of memory in reducing or enhancing resilience
  • investigate the impact of non-stationarity on resilience
  • identify critical combinations of events and vulnerable systems and propose strategies for improving resilience.

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