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Research project


Project overview

The project looked 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 analysed and simulated 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 looked 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 the project looked included 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 (i.e. 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.


Lead researcher

Professor Ivan Haigh


Research interests

  • I have four main areas of research, as follows:
  • Mean Sea level: local, regional and global trends, detection of accelerations, understanding of inter-annual variability
  • Extreme sea levels and coastal Flooding: Changes in storm surges, extreme value analysis, compound events,
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