University of Hull secures over £100k for new estuary flooding research

The 2013 storm surge which caused flooding to over 400 properties across Hull and East Yorkshire could have been much worse had it happened several hours later.

That’s according to a new research team including experts from the University of Hull.

Humber bridge and estuary
The Humber Bridge and estuary.

Researchers at the University are part of a new £350,000 project to better predict flooding in 14 UK estuaries. With around 20 million people in the UK living around estuaries at risk from flooding, the research is of vital importance.

The project, which will see £105,000 of Natural Environment Research Council funding come to Hull, will examine the impact of factors including rainfall, surge tides and climate change on our estuaries.

The team has claimed events such as the 2013 storm surge in the Humber Estuary could in fact have been more severe, had tide, rainfall or water levels in the River Ouse and Trent been different.

Professor Tom Coulthard, Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Hull, is working alongside a team at Bangor University on the project.

He said: “This new project will use powerful computer models developed at the University of Hull to forecast flooding in up to 14 different estuaries across the UK. 

“Predicted increases in rainfall and surge tides from the Met Office’s latest forecasts of future climate will be fed into the models at Hull, to generate new maps of flood risk for the UK.   

“This data will provide us with new information into flood events which have the potential to devastate people, homes and businesses.

“I am delighted to be working alongside experts at Bangor University on this potentially lifesaving project.”

The research will also explore the dangers posed by compound flooding – an event which results from the co-occurrence of storm surge and high tide with high fluvial discharge, and can have devastating effects on areas on or below sea level. 

Global sea levels are expected to rise by up to one metre this century, and in the UK, rainfall and temperatures are likely to change, with extreme events such as storms, heatwaves and droughts becoming more intense and seasonal. 

The new research project builds on the University of Hull’s expertise around flooding.

Experts at the University have also been researching the impacts of both the 2007 and 2013 floods in Hull, giving many residents the chance to share their experiences for the first time.

The University of Hull will this month launch a new MSc Flood Risk Management course.

The programme will focus on finding innovative new ways to increase flood resilience and tackle one of the greatest threats facing the planet.

Elsewhere, plans were earlier this year submitted for Ark, a £15m National Flood Resilience Centre which will provide emergency services and responders with a controlled environment for simulated training in both urban and rural flood events, and includes a full-scale 120-metre-long street and a water rapids course.

The centre will also be a base for world-leading research and innovation, focused on enhancing business, societal and community resilience to flooding.  

[Phil Winter – University of Hull]