Heavy rain

Flood research

Our online resource is designed to support business, and those working with business, identify research to support their projects and decision-making in preparing for and responding to flood events. It includes current and completed UK Research Council-funded research from the past decade, as well as new projects to watch for results in the coming years.

The projects are assigned to categories titled before, during and after a flood, or  can be filtered using the following broad classifications:

Particular thanks to Dr Paola Hernandez Montes de Oca (University of Leeds and Professor Bingunath Ingirige (University of Huddersfield) for their assistance in reviewing this resource. Thanks also to Graham Brogden (Aviva) for his time and advice, as well as all speakers and participants at the ARCC flooding and business workshop held in Leeds in October 2017.

Community resilience to extreme weather events through improved local decision-making

University of Greenwich

March 2008 – November 2011

SMEs must be prepared for the disruption that an extreme weather event (EWE) can bring and have contingency plans in place to help their immediate recovery to secure their long term survival. This project aimed to understand how each group of decision-makers is affected by and responds to EWEs, and to identify the synergies and conflicts between their decisions that affect community resilience. The aim of the research is to develop an integrated decision-making framework that supports the individual and collective actions of local policymakers, households and SMEs, in such a way that the actions result in the improved resilience of local communities to EWEs.

Research Council: EPSRC

Creative resilience through community imaginings

Northumbria University

February 2013 – May 2013

Evidence suggests that environmental crisis narratives, rather than spur people to take action, prompt feelings of anxiety, helplessness and disempowerment. Ultimately these narratives may serve to foster apathy and denial, discouraging people from considering alternatives or taking control. Behaviour change interventions, also aimed at encouraging environmentally-considerate behaviour, have tended to ignore concerns about status, ethical values and beliefs, identity, quality of life and fun, thereby stripping life of much that people value. This project addresses the need for a step-change in society’s notion of everyday life (ie the small achievements and intuitions that provide our compass) to take account of a future with distinctly different environment, opportunities, and states of uncertainty.

Research Council: AHRC

Damp, moisture and mould

UCL Centre for Moisture in Buildings


Buildings are exposed to multiple water sources, such as rain, ground water and flooding on the outside, and breathing, cooking, showering, water leaks and many other activities inside. The UK Centre for Moisture in Buildings focuses on the causes, mechanisms and solutions to moisture problems. Research is now an urgent requirement for this country, its building owners and occupiers, and the construction (and maintenance) industry.

Research Council: Various

DFUSE: Game theory and adaptive networks for smart evacuations

University of Essex

October 2010 – March 2013

The role of community learning in disasters is seen to be increasingly important. Education is the lost discipline in terms of understanding behaviour in disasters and emergencies. This interdisciplinary project considers how new technologies and methods in the physical and social sciences can facilitate city evacuations with a focus on plans in London, Birmingham and Carlisle.

Research Council: EPSRC

Digital tool for SME flood adaptation

University of the West of England

December 2012 – June 2016

A digital e-learning tool that encourages flood risk adaptation amongst SMEs. This interactive Web-2 app allows users to communicate with other businesses, share their views and experiences, access key resources and learn from a range of people who have flood experience or expertise. Business people shared their learning about how to run a business in a flood risk area, and on different aspects of their adaptive strategies. The storytelling process was found to encourage critical reflections on business adaptation, decision making and experiential learning that could be usefully shared with other small businesses.

Research Council: EPSRC

Economic impact of flooding on SMEs

University of Leeds

April 2016

Understanding the situation of SMEs is important as they represent key drivers in achieving the growth and development needed for economic recovery. When SMEs experience direct damage, there is a knock-on effect on the local and regional economy, for example, damage such as access to public infrastructure, damage to their overall financial situation, stock and building maintenance. The most vulnerable sectors are retail and manufacturing firms.

Emergency flood planning and management using unmanned aerial systems

University of Exeter

2017 – 2018

UASs can be easily deployed – often hand launched – to assess damage across large areas, and provide emergency responders with the opportunity to assess situations quickly: this allows prioritisation of resources and effective deployment. One aspect of the research focuses on addressing challenges in flying UASs in non-ideal situations, for example, maintaining performance during adverse weather conditions, during intermittent loss of communication with the base station, overcoming the loss of operator visuals, providing the ability to recover the vehicle without a runway and avoiding potential collisions with unexpected obstacles.

Research Council: EPSRC

Evaluating the resilience of critical infrastructure for emergency response to extreme flood events in Leicester City

Loughborough University


Whilst in the possession of a wealth of data and abundant local knowledge, emergency responders often find it challenging to apply existing flood ‘hotspot’ data to assist strategic planning and operational response. An interdisciplinary team of researchers with project partners from the City of Leicester, UK, evaluated the resilience of emergency response during extreme flood events, including the accessibility of the city to emergency responders during extreme flooding. The results uncovered aspects of flooding that stakeholders were unaware of, i.e. the ‘hotspot’ areas which would directly become inundated, and the indirect, cascading impacts of flood events of different magnitudes on emergency response times at a cityscale.

Research Council: NERC

Extreme weather events should apply a ‘whole systems’ approach

University of Surrey


Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events such as heatwaves, flooding and hurricanes. An effective response requires joined-up activities across sectors managing food, water and energy security. ‘Bottom-up’ participation from local communities is needed to design sustainable and resilient responses to nexus shocks.

Research Council: ESRC

Flood MEMORY: Multi-Event Modelling Of Risk & recoverY

Newcastle University

January 2013 – May 2016

This project is of broader interest to business – uncovering how coasts (beaches, dunes and engineered defences) and rivers behave during storms. Of particular interest is the effect of previous storms and floods moving sediment (ie shingle, sand and river bed material) so that the beach or river is in a different (perhaps weaker) condition when a second flood event arrives. The movement of sediment is difficult to predict as it mostly happens during storms, so our knowledge of these processes is currently lacking.

Research Council: EPSRC