Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Annex 7



Process-based research into groundwater flooding

(Additional to BGS's groundwater flood susceptibility maps.)

  BGS has been jointly funding a study with the Environment Agency over the past three years which aims to assess the role groundwater flooding plays in the overall flooding story within the city of Oxford. This study is linked with the Agency's Oxford Flood Risk Management Study. As a result, an extensive network has been developed to monitor river, stream and groundwater levels. Groundwater levels rise during flood events as a response to high river and stream levels which force water into the highly permeable underlying gravels.

  The Oxford study provides a case study of groundwater flooding in a shallow alluvial setting. Recommendations from recent Defra Making Space for Water scoping studies have identified this as a key project for the Environment Agency in assessing: how to address groundwater flooding as part of the overall flood risk management measures in such environments; how to address groundwater in early warning systems; and how to develop integrated river and groundwater models for flood prediction

  A European Union INTERREG IIIa project on groundwater flood prediction in northern France (Somme) and Brighton UK ( is due for completion in Autumn 2007. This process-based study led by the French Geological Survey (BRGM) in partnership with the University of Brighton and BGS has undertaken extensive field work to characterise unsaturated zone processes in the Chalk related to flooding and will lead to the development of early warning systems for groundwater flooding events in the INTERREG regions involved.

  Imperial College London, BGS and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) are undertaking a three-year project funded by the NERC FREE Programme to develop a suite of integrated modelling tools to help assess and manage risk from groundwater flooding on the Chalk of the UK. The approach will be to combine process-based atmospheric, surface water, unsaturated and saturated zone flow models that capture the key heterogeneities in the aquifer that affect groundwater flooding.

  To investigate the sustainability of urban drainage systems, the BGS took part in a collaborative study of the Manchester urban area, which was jointly funded with the North-west Region of the Environment Agency. The study produced a three-dimensional (3D) model of the superficial deposits (Annex 6), in order to examine potential groundwater-surface water interactions. Hydrogeological (groundwater) pathways were identified, and it was demonstrated that there was potential for lateral migration of groundwater to occur in perched (near-surface) aquifers. Studies of this type will be key to developing a predictive model for "sewage flooding" by understanding the interaction between permeable substrates and rising water tables, and how this may influence the function of artificial drainage systems.

BGS flooding research contacts

  Dr J N Carney, British Geological Survey, Keyworth

  Dr A Gibson, British Geological Survey, Keyworth

  Mr D. Macdonald, British Geological Survey, Wallingford

  Dr J Bloomfield British Geological Survey, Wallingford


Weather research programme

  Part of NCAS Weather works in collaboration with the Met Office feeding in observation-based and numerical modelling research to develop and improve the Met Office's numerical weather predictions (weather forecasting). In addition, NCAS provides the core instrumentaion and facilities (ground-based and airborne) to support the Weather programme.

  For a very recent example of NCAS work (campaign still ongoing) which is particularly relevant to improving predictions of flooding in the UK weather see:

  NCAS News—  07.html

    "Weathering the Storm! Eight Nations, Nine Research Aircraft and an Airship—Top UK Weather Scientists Join Massive International Campaign to Investigate Storms and Flooding. The Convective and Orographically-induced Precipitation Study (COPS) begins (11/07/07)"

  The COPS project above is building on results from the Convective Storm Initiation (CSIP) project. CSIP was/is an extremely successful project which took place in summer 2005—the data analysis, results and knowledge transfer are now well underway. News item and relevant links:  05  news.htm

Main NCAS contacts

  For the Weather programme and similar work:

  Professor Stephen Mobbs (NCAS Director and weather expert)

  Professor Geraint Vaughan (Director of NCAS Weather Programme):

  Professor Alan Blyth (NCAS Head of Ground-based Observation Facility and Head of specialised aircraft instrumentation)

  NCAS PIs who are UK leaders in the field of cloud research: how they form, their properties and how this affects the type of rain that forms and falls:

  Professor Tom Choularton (microphysics): University of Manchester:

  Dr Martin Gallagher (microphysics); University of Manchester

  Professor Hugh Coe (aerosols)

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