September 2008 Morpeth Flood addition - Performance of ensemble rainfall forecasts in relation to pluvial flooding impacts

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Civil Engineering and Geosciences


Following the major floods in 2007, the UK Government commissioned a report (the Pitt Review) which formulated the actions needed to respond to this issue. A key recommendation of the report was the need for 'improved modelling of all forms of flooding'. Most attention so far has been paid to developing computer models of flooding from rivers (fluvial flooding), but a significant percentage of flooding is from rainfall events which lead to localised runoff (pluvial flooding). These flood events are difficult to predict as they are often have local high intensity rainfall (typically associated with convective storms) and runoff in urban areas through subsurface drains as well as overland. A new version of the Met. Office's operational weather forecast model has recently been developed with a high (1.5km) resolution that is capable of representing these local rainfall events more accurately, with the potential to be used to support better predictions of pluvial flooding. This proposal aims to use the outputs from the new model for the case study event of the 6th Sept. 2008 Morpeth flood that affected around 1,000 properties. This case study is particularly valuable, as it is one of the very few events for which the dynamics of the flooding have been measured in detail in a previous project from publicly-sourced information, which has allowed detailed reconstruction of the different sources of flooding for comparison against flood models. The quality of the detailed rainfall data from the 1.5km weather forecast model for the Sept. 2008 Morpeth flood event will be assessed through comparison with raingauge observations and other standard approaches currently used in the UK, including assessment of the uncertainty in the rainfall data. These data will then be fed into hydrological models of runoff from the localised catchment areas, and used to simulate the volumes of water flowing into the town, and how the floodwater reaches the different areas of the floodplain, allowing comparison against the observed flood levels for this event. This case study is the first to use the new weather forecast model rainfall predictions including uncertainty for flood modelling, and will help to support development of flood prediction modelling from pluvial sources across the UK.


10 25 50
Description The outcomes of this study have shown how the location and movement of storm rainfall in relation to catchment areas affects the severity of flooding. This finding indicates that improvement in flood forecasting could take into account storm trajectories, as well as total rainfall.
Exploitation Route Further flood modelling studies have been carried out to investigate and demonstrate this effect for both frontal and convective storms. The findings from these further studies may be used to inform and improve flood forecasting under certain conditions.
Sectors Environment

Description Data produced by this project were used in support of flood modelling to design flood protection schemes worth in excess of £28,000,000.
First Year Of Impact 2009
Sector Environment
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

Description EPSRC Digital Technology (DT) Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) - Data Assimilation for the Resilient City (Dare) Pilot Project award : A Toolkit for Community-Based Flood Monitoring
Amount £24,000 (GBP)
Funding ID Reference 5225300 
Organisation University of Reading 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2019 
End 06/2020
Description Flooding From Intense Rainfall
Amount £370,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/K00896X/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2015 
End 04/2019
Description Susceptibility of catchments to INTense RAinfall and flooding (Project SINATRA)
Amount £1,027,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/K008781/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2013 
End 10/2018
Description Citizen Science workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Series of regional workshop events, PI as initiator/main organisor: "From Catchment to Coasts: a north-east networking event on public engagement with environmental research". Attendees included regulators, Rivers Trusts (3rd sector organisations), who were closely interested and engaged, and have subsequently become directly involved in research-related activities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description International Association of Hydrogeologists Annual Symposium 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote presentation and paper, Parkin, G. 2018, "The Citizen Hydroscientist - Benefits and Challenges for Hydrogeology", International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH) Irish annual conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018