MaRIUS: Managing the Risks, Impacts and Uncertainties of droughts and water Scarcity

Lead Research Organisation: NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Department Name: Hydro-climate Risks

Abstract

Impacts of water scarcity on the environment, society and the economy are complex. They are profoundly shaped by human choices and trade-offs between competing claims to water. Current practices for management of droughts in the UK have largely evolved from experience. Each drought tests institutions and society in distinctive ways. Yet it is questionable whether this empirical and heuristic approach is fit for purpose in the future, because the past is an incomplete guide to future conditions.
The MaRIUS project will introduce and explore a risk-based approach to the management of droughts and water scarcity, drawing upon global experiences and insights from other hazards to society and the environment. MaRIUS will demonstrate, in the context of real case studies and future scenarios, how risk metrics can be used to inform management decisions and societal preparedness. Enquiry will take place at a range of different scales, from households and farms to river basins and national scales. Fine-scale granular analysis is essential for understanding drought impacts. Aggregation to broader scales provides evidence to inform critical decisions in water companies, national governments and agencies. Analysis on a range of timescales will demonstrate the interactions between long-term planning and short-term decision making, and the difference this makes to impacts and risks.
Underpinning the risk-based approach to management of water scarcity, the MaRIUS project will develop an integrated suite of models of drought processes and impacts of water scarcity. A new 'event set' of past and possible future hydroclimatic drought conditions will enable extensive testing of drought scenarios. The representation of drought processes in hydrological models at catchment and national scales will be enhanced, enabling improved analysis of drought frequency, duration and severity. Models for assessment of the risks of harmful water quality, in rivers and reservoirs, will be developed. The representation of drought impacts in models of species abundance and biodiversity in rivers and wetland ecosystems, such as fens, lowland and upland bogs, will be enhanced. A model of agricultural practices and output will be used to analyse drought impacts on agriculture and investigate the benefits of preparatory steps that may be taken by farmers. The potential economic losses due to water scarcity will be analysed through a combination of 'bottom-up' study of households and businesses, and consideration of supply chain dependence on drought-sensitive industries.
The environmental, economic and social dimensions of water scarcity will be synthesised into a computer visualisation tool (an 'impacts dashboard'). This will enable exploratory analysis of feedbacks between impacts. For example, agricultural land use changes, driven in part by drought frequency, will, in turn, influence water quality and ecosystems. The interdisciplinary analysis will enable comparison of likely outcomes arising from applying both pre-existing drought management arrangements (e.g. restrictions on water use, abstraction limits) and enhanced/innovative management strategies (e.g. use of outlook forecasts, dynamic tariffs).
Social science and stakeholder engagement are deeply embedded in the MaRIUS project, which will be framed by a critical analysis of how impacts of droughts and water scarcity are currently understood and managed by key stakeholders, and how this is shaped by institutions, regulation and markets. First-hand experience and 'collective memory' of communities affected now, and historically, by water scarcity will provide new understandings of the social and cultural dimensions of droughts. On-going engagement between the project social scientists, natural scientists and stakeholders will help to ensure that the outputs from the MaRIUS project, including the 'impacts dashboard', are matched to their needs and to the evolving policy context.

Planned Impact

Droughts are one of the headline strategic risks to the UK. In 2012 the UK experienced the driest spring in over a century, after two dry winters. Ministers faced the prospect of water shortages during the London Olympics. Whilst the drought conditions in early 2012 served as a wake-up call, the potential for water shortages in the UK, driven by changing patterns of demand and changing climatic conditions, had already been recognised. In the Thames Water region alone it is estimated that severe water rationing could potentially result in economic losses of £300million/day. The capacity for the natural environment to recover from periods of very low flows, deteriorated water quality, dry soils and hot temperatures is not well understood.
The MaRIUS project aims to provide new evidence and insights to minimise and manage the harmful impacts of droughts and water scarcity to the environment, society and the economy. It will provide benefits through the improved management of risks and more inclusive, transparent, effective and efficient arrangements for risk management.
The expected beneficiaries are:
1. Organisations with responsibility for the management of droughts and water scarcity, who will benefit from improved evidence of the risks of droughts and potential impacts of water scarcity. These organisations include water utilities, regulators (EA, Ofwat) and government (Defra and the devolved administrations). Improved information will enable better management of scarce resources and inevitable trade-offs during periods of water scarcity. A multi-attribute understanding of risk will enable the development of new indicators and trigger points for the management of droughts. Decision makers (including senior executives and ministers) will be provided with a more nuanced and accurate assessment of risks and the implications of different management options. Adoption of a risk-based approach to drought management will enable more explicit treatment of uncertainty and more proportionate allocation of resources to risk reduction.
2. Communities and businesses who may be impacted by droughts and water scarcity, including domestic and industrial water users and farmers, who will benefit from more transparent and risk-informed management of droughts. These benefits will be achieved indirectly through uptake of new science and methodologies by the organisations mentioned in (1) and also via the direct interaction and communication with communities, NGOs and other stakeholders that are planned as part of the MaRIUS project.
3. The natural environment and organisations with responsibility for, or an interest in, protecting the environment from the impacts of droughts and water scarcity, including Natural England, the EA, wildlife trusts and rivers trusts, who will benefit from better understanding of the risks of droughts to the natural environment and the impacts of management options designed to reduce the risks of water scarcity. Involvement in the research will help to ensure that environmental impacts of water scarcity are given appropriate weight alongside water users.
The MaRIUS project is in a strong position to deliver these impacts. The consortium has long-standing links with the stakeholder community, and outstanding experience of delivering impacts from previous projects. The MaRIUS project has a carefully developed dissemination plan and strategies to promote uptake and impact. Jointly with Project Partners in government and industry, we will target decisions taking place during and after the project (e.g. Abstraction reform, Water Resources Management Planning Guideline, EA Water Company Drought Plan Guideline) and processes (e.g. Water Score-Card, Water Situation Report, Hydrological Outlook) where the proposed research is likely to have most impact. Joint work on drought case studies and scenario analyses with our Project Partners will test methodologies and promote applied uptake of the research.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description This study is the first to use a national-scale gridded hydrological model (Grid-to-Grid) to characterise droughts across Great Britain over the last century. We have found that the model can simulate low flows well in many catchments across Great Britain. We have looked at time series of monthly mean river flow and soil moisture to identify historic droughts (1891-2015). We have shown that the national-scale gridded output can be used to identify historic drought periods. A quantitative assessment of drought characteristics shows that groundwater areas typically experience more severe droughts, which have longer durations rather than higher intensities. There is significant spatial and temporal variability in drought characteristics, but there are no consistent trends over time. Our analysis suggests that in the future:
1. Southern and eastern regions are projected to have longer duration droughts
2. Northern and western areas more likely to be affected by major droughts than at present
Exploitation Route This has been the subject of a follow on project, ENDOWS. We have made all our Marius model output available on the NERC EIDC (1.3Tb), and we are still publishing refereed journal papers (1 has just been submitted - 2021).
We are building on the research using abstraction and discharge data in the LTS-S NC project UK-Scape, for which the recent refereed journal publication has been submitted and a further publication is planned.
We conducted a specific analysis for a UK Water Company as a direct result of our presentation to stakeholders in November 2017 which is now published online, and this experience has helping us develop further research ideas to support UK water companies.
Sectors Environment

URL http://www.mariusdroughtproject.org/
 
Description We have been asked by a UK water company to undertake further research to analyse future options for water transfers between UK regions
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Education,Environment
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

 
Title CEH Grid-to-Grid model estimates of daily mean river flow for gauged catchments in Great Britain 1960-2015 
Description Bell, V.A.; Rudd, A.C.; Kay, A.L.; Davies, H.N. (2018). Grid-to-Grid model estimates of daily mean river flow for gauged catchments in Great Britain (1960 to 2015): observed driving data . NERC Environmental Information Data Centre. https://doi.org/10.5285/5f3c1a02-d5c4-4faa-9353-e8 b68ce2ace2 This dataset is a model output, from the Grid-to-Grid hydrological model driven by observed climate data (CEH-GEAR rainfall and MORECS potential evaporation). It provides daily mean river flow (m3/s) for 260 catchments, for the period 1960 to 2015. The catchments correspond to locations of NRFA gauging stations (http://nrfa.ceh.ac.uk/). The data were produced as part of MaRIUS (Managing the Risks, Impacts and Uncertainties of drought and water Scarcity), which was a UK NERC-funded research project (2014-2017) that developed a risk-based approach to drought and water scarcity (http://www.mariusdroughtproject.org/). Publication date: 2018-03-09 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The dataset will greatly assist practitioners to assess risk of climate change and droughts. 
URL http://catalogue.ceh.ac.uk/documents/5f3c1a02-d5c4-4faa-9353-e8b68ce2ace2
 
Title CEH Grid-to-Grid model estimates of daily mean river flow for gauged catchments in Great Britain, 1891 to 2015 
Description Bell, V.A.; Rudd, A.C.; Kay, A.L.; Davies, H.N. (2018). Grid-to-Grid model estimates of daily mean river flow for gauged catchments in Great Britain (1891 to 2015): observed driving data . NERC Environmental Information Data Centre. https://doi.org/10.5285/0ceb4f85-0bbf-49f0-ab70-cf c137ab7d4d This dataset is a model output, from the Grid-to-Grid hydrological model driven by observed climate data (CEH-GEAR rainfall and Oudin temperature-based potential evaporation). It provides daily mean river flow (m3/s) for 260 catchments, for the period 1891 to 2015. The catchments correspond to locations of NRFA gauging stations (http://nrfa.ceh.ac.uk/). The data were produced as part of MaRIUS (Managing the Risks, Impacts and Uncertainties of drought and water Scarcity), which was a UK NERC-funded research project (2014-2017) that developed a risk-based approach to drought and water scarcity (http://www.mariusdroughtproject.org/). Publication date: 2018-03-08 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The data will greatly assist practitioners to assess risk of climate change and droughts 
URL https://catalogue.ceh.ac.uk/documents/0ceb4f85-0bbf-49f0-ab70-cfc137ab7d4d
 
Title CEH Grid-to-Grid model estimates of daily mean river flow for gauged catchments in Great Britain: weather@home2 
Description Bell, V.A.; Rudd, A.C.; Kay, A.L.; Davies, H.N. (2018). Grid-to-Grid model estimates of daily mean river flow for gauged catchments in Great Britain: weather@home2 (climate model) driving data . NERC Environmental Information Data Centre. https://doi.org/10.5285/f6cac471-7d92-4e6d-be8a-9f 7887143058 This dataset is a model output, from the Grid-to-Grid hydrological model driven by weather@home2 climate model data. It provides a 100-member ensemble of daily mean river flow (m3/s) for 260 catchments, for the following time periods: historical baseline (HISTBS: 1900-2006), near-future (NF: 2020-2049) and far-future (FF: 2070-2099). It also includes a baseline period (BS: 1975-2005). The catchments correspond to locations of NRFA gauging stations (http://nrfa.ceh.ac.uk/). The data were produced as part of MaRIUS (Managing the Risks, Impacts and Uncertainties of drought and water Scarcity), which was a UK NERC-funded research project (2014-2017) that developed a risk-based approach to drought and water scarcity. Publication date: 2018-03-09 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The data will greatly assist practitioners to assess risk of climate change and droughts 
URL https://catalogue.ceh.ac.uk/documents/f6cac471-7d92-4e6d-be8a-9f7887143058
 
Title CEH Grid-to-Grid model estimates of monthly mean flow and soil moisture for Great Britain 1960-2015 
Description Bell, V.A.; Rudd, A.C.; Kay, A.L.; Davies, H.N. (2018). Grid-to-Grid model estimates of monthly mean flow and soil moisture for Great Britain (1960 to 2015): observed driving data . NERC Environmental Information Data Centre. https://doi.org/10.5285/e911196a-b371-47b1-968c-66 1eb600d83b This dataset is a model output, from the Grid-to-Grid hydrological model driven by observed climate data (CEH-GEAR rainfall and MORECS potential evaporation). It provides monthly mean flow (m3/s) and soil moisture (mm water/m soil) on a 1 km grid for the period 1960 to 2015. To aid interpretation, two additional spatial datasets are provided: • Digitally-derived catchment areas on a 1km x 1km grid • Estimated locations of flow gauging stations on a 1km x 1km grid and as a csv file. The data were produced as part of MaRIUS (Managing the Risks, Impacts and Uncertainties of drought and water Scarcity), which was a UK NERC-funded research project (2014-2017) that developed a risk-based approach to drought and water scarcity. Publication date: 2018-03-09 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The dataset will greatly assist practitioners to assess risk of climate change and droughts 
URL https://catalogue.ceh.ac.uk/documents/e911196a-b371-47b1-968c-661eb600d83b
 
Title CEH Grid-to-Grid model estimates of monthly mean flow and soil moisture for Great Britain, 1891 to 2015 
Description Bell, V.A.; Rudd, A.C.; Kay, A.L.; Davies, H.N. (2018). Grid-to-Grid model estimates of monthly mean flow and soil moisture for Great Britain (1891 to 2015): observed driving data . NERC Environmental Information Data Centre. https://doi.org/10.5285/f52f012d-9f2e-42cc-b628-9c dea4fa3ba0 This dataset is a model output, from the Grid-to-Grid hydrological model driven by observed climate data (CEH-GEAR rainfall and Oudin temperature-based potential evaporation). It provides monthly mean flow (m3/s) and soil moisture (mm water/m soil) on a 1 km grid for the period 1891 to 2015. To aid interpretation, two additional spatial datasets are provided: • Digitally-derived catchment areas on a 1km x 1km grid • Estimated locations of flow gauging stations on a 1km x 1km grid and as a csv file. The data were produced as part of MaRIUS (Managing the Risks, Impacts and Uncertainties of drought and water Scarcity), which was a UK NERC-funded research project (2014-2017) that developed a risk-based approach to drought and water scarcity (http://www.mariusdroughtproject.org/). Publication date: 2018-03-09 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The data will greatly assist practitioners to assess risk of climate change and droughts 
URL https://catalogue.ceh.ac.uk/documents/f52f012d-9f2e-42cc-b628-9cdea4fa3ba0
 
Title Grid-to-Grid model estimates of daily mean river flow for gauged catchments in Great Britain (1960 to 2015): observed driving data [MaRIUS-G2G-MORECS-daily] 
Description This dataset is a model output, from the Grid-to-Grid hydrological model driven by observed climate data (CEH-GEAR rainfall and MORECS potential evaporation). It provides daily mean river flow (m3/s) for 260 catchments, for the period 1960 to 2015. The catchments correspond to locations of NRFA gauging stations (http://nrfa.ceh.ac.uk/). The data were produced as part of MaRIUS (Managing the Risks, Impacts and Uncertainties of drought and water Scarcity), which was a UK NERC-funded research project (2014-2017) that developed a risk-based approach to drought and water scarcity (http://www.mariusdroughtproject.org/). 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Title Grid-to-Grid model estimates of monthly mean flow and soil moisture for Great Britain: weather@home2 (climate model) driving data [MaRIUS-G2G-WAH2-monthly] 
Description This dataset is a model output, from the Grid-to-Grid hydrological model driven by weather@home2 climate model data. It provides a 100-member ensemble of monthly mean flow (m3/s) and soil moisture (mm water/m soil) on a 1 km grid for the following time periods: historical baseline (HISTBS: 1900-2006), near-future (NF: 2020-2049) and far-future (FF: 2070-2099). It also includes a baseline period (BS: 1975-2004). To aid interpretation, two additional spatial datasets are provided: - Digitally-derived catchment areas on a 1km x 1km grid - Estimated locations of flow gauging stations on a 1km x 1km grid and as a csv file. The data were produced as part of MaRIUS (Managing the Risks, Impacts and Uncertainties of drought and water Scarcity), which was a UK NERC-funded research project (2014-2017) that developed a risk-based approach to drought and water scarcity. Publication date: 2018-03-12 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The dataset will greatly assist practitioners to assess risk of climate change and droughts 
URL https://catalogue.ceh.ac.uk/documents/3b90962e-6fc8-4251-853e-b9683e37f790
 
Title Grid-to-Grid model estimates of monthly mean flow and soil moisture for Great Britain: weather@home2 (climate model) driving data [MaRIUS-G2G-WAH2-monthly] 
Description This dataset is a model output, from the Grid-to-Grid hydrological model driven by weather@home2 climate model data. It provides a 100-member ensemble of monthly mean flow (m3/s) and soil moisture (mm water/m soil) on a 1 km grid for the following time periods: historical baseline (HISTBS: 1900-2006), near-future (NF: 2020-2049) and far-future (FF: 2070-2099). It also includes a baseline period (BS: 1975-2004). To aid interpretation, two additional spatial datasets are provided: - Digitally-derived catchment areas on a 1km x 1km grid - Estimated locations of flow gauging stations on a 1km x 1km grid and as a csv file. The data were produced as part of MaRIUS (Managing the Risks, Impacts and Uncertainties of drought and water Scarcity), which was a UK NERC-funded research project (2014-2017) that developed a risk-based approach to drought and water scarcity. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
 
Description Severn Thames Transfer Study 
Organisation Thames Water Utilities Limited
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Members of the CEH research team conducted a study based on the MaRIUS datasets to aid Thames Water's response to questions and comments on their Water Resources Management Plan 2019.
Collaborator Contribution Thames Water fully engaged with the research which they had commissioned
Impact A report has been produced and used as evidence in Thames Water Utilities Ltd WRMP19.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Conference presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk at 10th Symposium for European Freshwater Sciences in Olomouc, Czech Republic, 2-7 July 2017. Title: "The impact of drought upon reservoir phytoplankton blooms". Authors: Alex Elliott, Gianbattista Bussi, Mohammad Mortazavi-Naeini.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Marius Stakeholder Showcase event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact MaRIUS showcase event (London, 2nd Nov 2017): http://aboutdrought.info/videos/videos-of-the-presentations-from-the-marius-live-conference/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://aboutdrought.info/videos/videos-of-the-presentations-from-the-marius-live-conference/
 
Description Poster presentation at EGU 2016, Vienna International Conference Centre, Vienna, Austria 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Title: A long-term national-scale hydrological simulation of river flows across Great Britain (poster presented by Alison Rudd)
Venue details and location: EGU 2016, Vienna International Conference Centre, Vienna, Austria
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2016/EGU2016-4305.pdf
 
Description Poster presented at Historic Drought Symposium, CEH, Wallingford (March 2016) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Title: National-scale hydrological modelling within MaRIUS: preliminary results on historic drought identification and trend analyses (1912-2012) (poster presented by Alison Rudd)
Venue details and location: Historic Drought Symposium, CEH, Wallingford (March 2016)
Link to the event: http://historicdroughts.ceh.ac.uk/content/historic-droughts-symposium-march-2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://historicdroughts.ceh.ac.uk/content/historic-droughts-symposium-march-2016
 
Description Presentation at HydroEco 2017: Loss of habitat and connectivity during drought 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact abstract for HydroEco 2017 has just been accepted (no programme on conference website yet). Conference website at http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/generic/hydroeco2017/index.aspx
Title: Loss of habitat and connectivity during drought.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/generic/hydroeco2017/index.aspx
 
Description RMetS/NCAS conference on High Impact Weather and Climate, University of Manchester, Manchester (6-8th July 2016) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Dr Ali Rudd, CEH, presented a poster at the RMetS/NCAS conference on High Impact Weather and Climate (July 2016).
Title: A national-scale hydrological simulation of low flows and drought across Britain (poster presented by Alison Rudd)
Link to the event: https://www.rmets.org/sites/default/files/Book%20of%20Abstracts%20-%20main%20conference%20Final.pdf
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.rmets.org/sites/default/files/Book%20of%20Abstracts%20-%20main%20conference%20Final.pdf
 
Description poster presented by Alison Rudd at University of Reading, Reading (21st May 2016) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Title: National-scale hydrological modelling within MaRIUS: preliminary results on historic drought identification and trend analyses (1912-2012) (poster presented by Alison Rudd)
Venue details and location: Statistics in Weather and Climate, University of Reading, Reading (21st May 2016)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.reading.ac.uk/maths-and-stats/news/Statistics-Weather-Climate.aspx