Effective flood management: using nature itself

Aerial view of a flooded road in Somerset

Climate change projections indicate that total rainfall will increase in winter in the UK and, although total summer rainfall is expected to decrease, models are predicting that there will be a five-fold increase in high intensity rainfall events in summertime by 2100.

As this will increase the likelihood of fluvial, pluvial and groundwater flooding, more ambitious adaptation measures are needed to manage flood risk in the UK. In many areas adaptation measures will include natural flood management approaches (such as reducing flood risk by storing water, slowing water, increasing flow connectivity and increasing soil infiltration).

NERC’s £4 million Natural Flood Management (NFM) programme involves six university partners, including University of Reading, working over four years to improve understanding of the suitability and effectiveness of different NFM measures for a range of flood risk scenarios.

Specific issues being addressed include:

  • How effective are particular NFM approaches at reducing flood risk for events of different magnitude?
  • Can NFM increase flood risk, for example from a different type of flooding or in a different part of the catchment?
  • Can clustering NFM measures help to reduce flood risk?
  • How do NFM measures affect the movement of water through a catchment, including in periods of normal and low flow as well as high flow (for example, can NFM reduce the risks associated with both floods and drought)?

The programme aims to support two main outputs:

  • novel methodologies that can be applied to a range of catchments
  • location specific information on flood risk that will be generated by case studies.

Last updated: 11 March 2021

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