Accurate flood forecasting gets closer

Dec 05, 2012 by Marion O'sullivan
Accurate flood forecasting gets closer

Heavy rainfall and the problems of flooding in towns have never been far from peoples' minds or the news headlines over the past few weeks. Now scientists say that new research will help to accurately pinpoint which individual streets are most at risk from flooding during severe rainstorms.

The Environment Agency, Met Office and others use computer models to predict how heavy moves over the . But the models can't show exactly where the rain will accumulate and cause problems.

Professor Paul Bates from the University of Bristol has been working on this problem for much of the last decade. He and his colleague, Dr Ad de Roo from the EU Joint Research Centre in Italy, decided to rethink the physics behind the complex and expensive computer models.

'Instead of loading more and more into the we decided to turn it on its head and find a simpler way,' says Bates. The pair worked out the minimum amount of physics needed to improve the model's predictive skill over a large area and at high resolution.

Bates and de Roo developed a new two-dimensional flood inundation programme which they have improved over the years, creating a blueprint that has saved industry years of developer time. Before they developed this programme it would have been far too expensive and taken too many computer resources to predict where flooding would occur.

'Some of the major players are now using our programme code,' says Bates. 'We're working with the Met Office to write the code into their forecast models. We've developed something that's so efficient it will become feasible to simulate surface water flooding at a high resolution over whole cities – it's good enough to identify individual streets where properties could be affected.'

As a , Bates says that they are planning to simulate a very large area – such as South-west England or the whole of Wales – and combine their model with the Met Office rainfall forecast.

'This is really still at an experimental stage,' says Bates. 'But five or ten years down the line we could be doing this routinely as part of the weather forecast.'

The flood inundation programme is being developed further for the Environment Agency's National Flood Risk Analysis, to help them decide where to invest in flood management and defence measures to get the most benefit. It is also being used by reinsurers, who insure the insurance companies against major risk and losses.

Explore further: Satellite shows Atlantic Tropical Depression degenerate

Provided by PlanetEarth Online search and more info website

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Olga now raining on third of 5 Australia territories

Feb 01, 2010

Australians in three of five territories have had enough of Tropical Cyclone Olga. After two landfalls, and three times a tropical storm, and traveling through Queensland and the Northern Territory, Olga's ...

NASA's TRMM satellite sees deadly rainfall over Thailand

Mar 31, 2011

Data from NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission or TRMM satellite was used to create a rainfall map of the severe rains that fell in Thailand recently. More than 20 people have been killed in southern ...

Floods to become commonplace by 2080

Jan 08, 2009

Flooding like that which devastated the North of England last year is set to become a common event across the UK in the next 75 years, new research has shown.

Recommended for you

Fires in the Northern Territories July 2014

21 minutes ago

Environment Canada has issued a high health risk warning for Yellowknife and surrounding area because of heavy smoke in the region due to forest fires. In the image taken by the Aqua satellite, the smoke ...

How much magma is hiding beneath our feet?

1 hour ago

Molten rock (or magma) has a strong influence on our planet and its inhabitants, causing destructive volcanic eruptions and generating some of the giant mineral deposits. Our understanding of these phenomena ...

Oso disaster had its roots in earlier landslides

3 hours ago

The disastrous March 22 landslide that killed 43 people in the rural Washington state community of Oso involved the "remobilization" of a 2006 landslide on the same hillside, a new federally sponsored geological study concludes.

Study finds missing piece of biogeochemical puzzle in aquifer

4 hours ago

A study published in Scienceby researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and co-authored by Georgia Tech may dramatically shift our understanding of the complex dance of microbes and minerals ...

User comments : 0