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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

Research project: Flood MEMORY: Multi-Event Modelling Of Risk & recoverY

Currently Active: 

The clustering of storms and flood events.

Plot of the south-westerly storm which caused the highest sea level at Newlyn, which contains the UK’s longest tide gauge record
Newlyn tide gauge record

It is increasingly recognised that the spatial and temporal dimensions of flood events needs to be better understood.

This work is part of a large multidisciplinary research project which aims to analyse situations where consecutive storms and floods may strike before defences or people have recovered (the 'memory period'). The outcomes will be to identify critical vulnerabilities, better allocate resources for protection and recovery and improve flood resilience.

At Southampton we are firstly conducting a UK wide case study of storm surge and sea level clustering, and collaborating with researchers at Swansea University on a more detailed case study.

Coastal floodplain & Class tide gauges in the UK
UK data


The first part of this analysis is to take a UK-wide view of the spatial and temporal clustering of sea level extremes. This relies upon recorded sea level time-series from tide gauges. The UK is served by a network of particularly high quality tide gauges at 45 sites 43 of which are currently active. These are managed by the National Tide and Sea Level Facility (NTSLF), owned and funded by the Environment Agency for England and Wales, and data is quality controlled and archived by the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC). The objectives are to:

  1. examine the spatial variations in the magnitude of tide and surge around the UK and their relative contributions to extreme sea levels;
  2. determine the spatial footprint of both the surge component and total water levels associated with specific large events that have occured within the span of the tide gauge data sets;
  3. look at spatial and temporal clusters across different scales (decadal, annual, consecutive tidal cycles).

The second part of the work involves statistical analysis of past/future extremes in sea-level and wave cluster events in Liverpool Bay using:

  1. tide gauge and wave buoy observations;
  2. a 140 year modelled time series of water levels and waves.

This will progress to the provision of cluster time-series of extreme sea level and wave events as boundary conditions for the XBEACH model, for the Sefton Coast.

Photo: communities at risk of storms and extreme sea levels on the Sefton coast
Sefton Coast


Southampton and NOC Staff

Dr Ivan Haigh (Southampton PI) - University of Southampton
Dr Matthew Wadey (PDRA) - University of Southampton
Dr Jenny Brown - National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool

Other staff involved

Professor C Kilsby (lead PI), - Newcastle University
Dr J Lamond - UWE, Bristol
Professor C Beck - Queen Mary, University of London
Dr R Briganti - University of Nottingham
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

Associated research themes


This project links to the goals of Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) and the UK Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Research Strategy (FCERM). Refer to:

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