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.
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.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Transport

 
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 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.
Collaborator Contribution We are working with the Stakeholder groups linked through the partnership in order to deliver research outcomes into the adaptation strategies.
Impact None yet - this is new collaboration which I envisage will evolve through the fellowship
Start Year 2017
 
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 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