WATER RESILIENT CITIES:CLIMATE UNCERTAINTY & URBAN VULNERABILITY to HYDROHAZARDS

Lead Research Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Department Name: Sch of Energy, Geosci, Infrast & Society

Abstract

Cities are the driver of regional, national and indeed global economies. The complex inter-relationship between urban areas and their hinterlands is a vital aspect of a city's economic success. Hinterlands supply resources such as water, food and energy; while being economically-tied to the urban area through trade. Creating resilient, sustainable, water-secure cities depends on our understanding of the potential future risks of changing hydro-hazards (floods and droughts) and our ability to increase our resilience to them. Worldwide, in 2014, hydro-hazards resulted in over $16Bn (floods) and $7.5Bn (droughts) in damages. While, in the UK over the past five years there have been significant challenges to water management posed by hydro hazards. Since 2000, flooding has caused over £5Bn worth of damage, of which £3Bn was caused by the 2007 floods, and over £1Bn from the 2013/14 winter storms, impacting households and businesses alike. Similarly direct costs (estimated at £70-165M) from the recent UK drought (2011-12) arose from impacts to urban water supplies, and industry. Projections of future climate recognise that there is an added uncertainty in temperature and precipitation trends which may exacerbate the frequency and severity of such hazards.
To respond to the stated challenge of transforming our cities to be resilient, sustainable urban centres and in the context of 'adapting to and mitigating climate change', I will quantify uncertainty in future hydro-hazards and design engineering/policy interventions to increase urban resilience which informs future urban water security adaptation for cities and their hinterlands. My fellowship will:
1. quantify future urban hydro-hazard uncertainty in a warming climate using novel techniques,
2. design engineering and policy interventions to mitigate the risk arising from these uncertainties, and
3. improve urban living through enhanced resilience to hydro-hazards.
I will achieve this by capturing uncertainty inro-hazard events and cascading this through to hazard assessment, challenging the current deterministic paradigm. I will characterise the vulnerability profile of newly exposed populations or sectors, and develop a ground breaking systems approach to ameliorate risk in order to design transformative resilience strategies. The delivery of this vision is challenging yet possible through combining advances in uncertainty quantification from a variety of fields, with my research which has consistently sought to challenge the deterministic paradigm. Awarding this fellowship will create a unique opportunity to improve our understanding of the role of climate projections on the systematic risk to urban living and how such risks can be addressed.
Output will include:
1. detailed understanding of the change to hydro hazards across the UK as a result of climate projections (and associated uncertainty), communicated in the context of climate variability,
2. probabilistic frameworks to capture climate uncertainty into assessments of systematic risk posed by changing hydro hazards at the urban scale,
3. analysis of the changing urban vulnerability, the uncertainty associated with this and exploration of the newly exposed population using new, and highly discretised vulnerability metrics,
4. a systems approach to urban resilience to changing hydro hazards, and
5. resilience strategies; e.g. transformative engineering interventions.

Planned Impact

The potential beneficiaries from the outcomes of the proposed research include:
1. Urban populations and communities, especially those who may become exposed in future climates
2. Urban planners and local authorities; those responsible for planning and designing urban space
3. Governmental bodies and policy-makers; those responsible for policy development to tackle future water security
4. The Environmental Agencies (e.g. the Environment Agency (EA), SEPA, Natural Resource Wales (NRW)) and the Water Industry (e.g. Scottish Water, Anglian Water etc); those responsible for delivering water security in the face of changing hydro-hazards
5. Engineering and environmental consultants
6. Academic researchers (Universities and Institutes); both within hydro-hazard research; and other disciplines (e.g. maths, computer science)
As set out in the Case for Support, hydro-hazards pose a significant on-going economic burden to the U.K. with potential impacts from the uncertainty arising from climate predictions adding extra pressure. The research gap in our understanding requires new and innovative thought to change how we adapt to an uncertain future, and thus make positive economic and societal impacts.
The output of this research will be of direct interest to the Environment Agencies (EA, SEPA, NRW) and the Water Industry as it will provide quantitative projections of the change to hydro-hazards resulting from climate projections (UKCP 09). This information will be of direct benefit (economic and societal) when developing strategies to manage hydro-hazards, allowing prioritisation of economic resources, as well as policy development. This aligns well with their business needs and strategic priorities; and will inform the development of investment scenarios (see statements of support).
Urban planners, engineering/environmental consultants and local authorities are responsible for the design, functionality and safety of urban spaces. Consequently the outputs of the research will be of direct interest to these stakeholders. Tailored adaptation strategies and greater understanding of social vulnerability to hydro-hazards can improve urban resilience in a co-ordinated manner.
The UK and Scottish governments are particularly interested in understanding the changing urban vulnerability in the future. Quantifying this and how it may change will lead to greater understanding of urban vulnerabilities to hydro-hazards, allow design of tailored adaptation strategies and shape policy, in order to reduce economic losses related to hydro-hazards. Once developed across the UK, this information will be of direct benefit to members of the public who are, or may potentially become, affected. It is these outputs which can inform future hydro-hazard policy development to increase urban resilience. Design of new policy, alongside greater understanding can influence and improve urban resilience to hydro-hazards; thus having a positive societal and economic benefit.
 
Title River Change project: Art installation 
Description The piece of art is designed to engage with the public. It is a large walk through piece of art which takes you on a journey through climate change impacts on the hydrological cycle. 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact This will be displayed in Schools in Glasgow during April 2018. Further displays will be ongoing following the creation of this piece of art. 
 
Description We have identified regions in the UK specifically exposed to changes in future flow regimes. This is an extension of the work completed in the earlier project (Accounting for climate change uncertainty in flood hazard prediction). Hot spots across the UK have been identified for both floods and droughts, aswell as areas which are at risk from increasing frequency of both. This is published and the uptake of the results is now being used by SEPA and developed to explore impacts to water resources for different sectors (SEPA), flood management (Environment Agency) and public water supply (Scottish Water)
We have quantified the role of different uncertainty sources (Multi-Model/ Perturbed-physic ensemble projections) which influence the hotspots of future droughts and floods across the UK. We have downscaled these uncertainty quantification methods to hazards at a smaller scale (e.g. flood plain level), to understand changing flood hazard for the end of the century.
We have developed a systems model for Urban areas, which allows complexity to be explored. This has been published; and we have been funded to expand this work Internationally (India), and are working with Scottish Water to explore its use for water resource planning at the urban scale.
Exploitation Route Practitioners can use our available database (of high flow changes), and we are creating a similar database for changes to low flows (daily and seasonally). This will be of use for planners, practitioners and policy makers. We are working to widen this to include more uncertainty.
The systems model will be available for the UK resilient cities (Belfast, Bristol, Manchester, Glasgow and London).
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Transport

 
Description Resilience in complex catchment systems
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Climate-KIC Award: ). Glasgow Climate Innovation Challenge, 'Community engagement in climate adaptation'.
Amount £20,000 (GBP)
Organisation Glasgow City Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2017 
End 04/2018
 
Description Frontiers of Development - Climate-Resilient Slums
Amount £19,910 (GBP)
Funding ID FODT392013 
Organisation Royal Academy of Engineering 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2019 
End 12/2020
 
Description Scottish Universities Insight Institute Award: 'Storytelling for Resilience - Communicating Systemic Approaches to Climate Change'
Amount £19,975 (GBP)
Organisation Scottish Universities Insight Institute 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2018 
End 05/2019
 
Title Impact and uncertainty methodological framework for the identification of compound hydro-hazard hotspots 
Description There exists an increasing need to understand the impact of climate change on the hydrological extremes of flood and drought, collectively referred to as 'hydro-hazards'. At present, current methodology are limited in their scope, particularly with respect to inadequate representation of the uncertainty in the hydroclimatological modelling chain. We have developed a spatially consistent comprehensive impact and uncertainty methodological framework for the identification of compound hydro-hazard hotspots - hotspots of change where concurrent increase in mean annual flood and drought events is projected. We apply a quasi-ergodic analysis of variance (QE-ANOVA) framework, to detail both the magnitude and the sources of uncertainty in the modelling chain for the mean projected mean change signal whilst accounting for non-stationarity. The framework is designed for application across a wide geographical range and is thus readily transferable. 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact We have illustrated the ability of the framework through application to 239 UK catchments based on hydroclimatological projections from the EDgE project (5 CMI5-GCMs and 3 HMs, forced under RCP8.5). The results indicate that half of the projected hotspots are temporally concurrent or temporally successive within the year, exacerbating potential impacts on society. The north-east of Scotland and south-west of the UK were identified as spatio-temporally compound hotspot regions and are of particular concern. This intensification of the hydrologic dynamic (timing and seasonality of hydro-hazards) over a limited time frame represents a major challenge for future water management. Hydrological models were identified as the largest source of variability, in some instances exceeding 80% of the total variance. Critically, clear spatial variability in the sources of modelling uncertainty was also observed; highlighting the need to apply a spatially consistent methodology, such as that presented. This application raises important questions regarding the spatial variability of hydroclimatological modelling uncertainty. In terms of water management planning, such findings allow for more focussed studies with a view to improving the projections which inform the adaptation process. 
 
Description Collaboration with CEH Wallingford 
Organisation Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Collaboration on papers (conference papers and journal paper) Co-production of research bids
Collaborator Contribution Meetings, discussion and contribution to the research
Impact Accepted conference papers: EGU 2016, IAHR (Liege) 2016 Journal paper (submitted) Climate Change
Start Year 2015
 
Description Collaboration with Climate Ready Clyde 
Organisation Adaptation Scotland
Department Climate Ready Clyde Partnership
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We will provide climate change projections on aspects of water security in order to plug some of the gaps in their evidence base. We will develop community engagement workshops and focus groups to define the constraints to well being in the context of flood risk for differing levels of social vulnerability and increase community engagement to avoid reinforcing inequalities.
Collaborator Contribution We are working with the Stakeholder groups linked through the partnership in order to deliver research outcomes into the adaptation strategies. We are working with the stakeholder groups to develop a framework to embed climate justice into climate adaptation strategies.
Impact None yet - this is new collaboration which I envisage will evolve through the fellowship
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration with EQUIP (EPSRC programme grant) 
Organisation University of Warwick
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Research collaboration (through Uncertainty Quantification)
Collaborator Contribution Ideas and collaboration
Impact Under development
Start Year 2015
 
Description Collaboration with SEPA 
Organisation Scottish Environment Protection Agency
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The WRC team have developed a novel drought progression methodology. We have been working with Scottish Water in order to determine what outputs would be most useful to them. The focus is on translating our drought projections into impacts, which we hope to achieve through use of their non-public water supply abstraction licence data.
Collaborator Contribution + SEPA have provided non-public water supply abstraction licence data for across Scotland + SEPA have provided hydropower records associated with these licences + SEPA intend to use some of these outputs to inform their revisions of abstraction licences (hands-off flow limits)
Impact + Work remains in progress
Start Year 2019
 
Description Collaboration with Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCCAN) 
Organisation Scottish Communities Climate Action Network
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We contributed development of the storytelling for resilience project, its outputs, and its final exhibition.
Collaborator Contribution SCCAN have collaborated with us throughout development of a 1-day workshop on storytelling for resilience. They also led the organisation of an exhibition ('Climate Reflections') , bringing together Scottish climate action groups, researchers, and the Environmental Justice Foundation in the process.
Impact A 1-day workshop on storytelling for resilience and climate change; an exhibition which displayed storytelling outputs alongside photographs of climate refugees.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Collaboration with Scottish Water 
Organisation Scottish Water
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The WRC team have developed a novel drought progression methodology. We have been working with Scottish Water in order to determine what outputs would be most useful to them. The focus is on translating our drought projections into impacts, which we hope to achieve through use of their water supply zone data. This data is of a sensitive nature and requires a security clearance process to occur before work can officially begin.
Collaborator Contribution + Provided overviews of public water supply abstraction zones across Scotland + Providing water supply zone information for a single location which will serve as a pilot for our work + The provision of security clearance is currently in progress + Further collaboration is to be discussed following this initial work
Impact + Work remains in progress
Start Year 2019
 
Description Collaboration with University of Dundee 
Organisation University of Dundee
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We will lead logistics and co-develop a programme to test storytelling approaches to climate change adaptation.
Collaborator Contribution We will lead participant recruitment and co-develop a programme to test storytelling approaches to climate change adaptation.
Impact Successful bid for Scottish Universities Insight Institue funding, supporting a programme for storytelling and climate change adaptation; this is multidisciplinary between experts in social capital, sociotechnical systems, and narrative research.
Start Year 2018
 
Title R packages: OSMtidy & AHgen 
Description A series of R packages are in the final stages of development. + OSMtidy extracts, filters and tidies OpenStreetMap data. This work is at the validation stage. + AHgen generates a systems model known as an abstraction hierarchy. The output from OSMtidy is used to weight the physical objects at the bottom layer of the hierarchy. + The final outputs may be used to assess the city resilience as well as the impacts of (hydro) hazards on cities. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact + Not applicable at this stage. 
 
Description Climate Challenge Fund Gathering 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact This was a larger gathering for a wide range of practitioners at community, regional, and national levels, aiming to come together and collaborate on proposals for funding climate change projects. Within this wider context a workshop session was run on storytelling for climate change.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/events/sustainability-and-climate-change/climate-challenge-fun...
 
Description Climate Reflections: Human Stories of Hope and Fear 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The outputs of the storytelling for resilience project were exhibited alongside photographs of climate refugees, in a large exhibition about Climate Reflections at Edinburgh's Out of the Blue Drill Hall.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.outoftheblue.org.uk/climatereflections/
 
Description Impact of Climate Change on high and low flows across Great Britain: a temporal analysis and uncertainty assessment 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact World water day lecture on water security - Flood risk management a systems approach
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description River Change public engagement events 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was a series of public engagement events resulting from the Climate KIC funding for the River Change art installation. The installation was taken to public arts venues, green spaces, and school visits, to maximise different audiences for public engagement. 
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
Description Storytelling for Resilience workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This was a workshop designed to take policymakers and practitioners at a national level in Scotland through a series of exercises to understand storytelling around climate change. Attendants included Scottish Government, city councils, community action groups, and environmental change organisations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Storytelling for Resilience workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact This was a workshop designed to take practitioners at a community level in Scotland through a series of exercises to understand storytelling around climate change. Attendants included Scottish Communities Climate Action Network, Friends of the Earth, Stop Climate Chaos, Extinction Rebellion, Development Trust Association Scotland, and more.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Water Resilient Cities stakeholder meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a project stakeholder meeting and workshop. This fed back new results to relevant parties, and honed research strategy for the coming year.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Water Resilient Cities stakeholder meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a project stakeholder meeting and workshop. This fed back new results to relevant parties, and honed research strategy for the coming year.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Water Resilient cities start-up meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Start up meeting with stakeholders, and presentation of initial results. The workshop agreed common terminology for the project, and potential research objectives and case study locations in order to embed industry and governmental need in the project from the outset.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017