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.

Is there a lack of faith in flood protection?

Kingston University


A problem in flood management is a lack of faith in the means of providing protection from floods (e.g. flood resistant barriers) and a resulting fear that the use of untested and potentially unreliable measures will increase anxiety rather than reduce it. People are often happy to rely on insurance for the mitigation of flood risk even though it does little to protect them from the disruption caused by a flood and normally only reimburses a portion of the financial losses incurred. Similarly, although sandbags are relatively ineffective, their use is so strongly associated with floods that they remain the most favoured means of flood protection.

Research Council: Other

Mainstreaming green infrastructure in planning policy and decision making: Translating NERC science into a co-produced spatial planning toolkit.

Northumbria University

September 2017 – September 2020

WATCH THIS SPACE: This fellowship prioritises four critical GI challenges: What constitutes success in the provision and delivery of GI in the planning system? How can we translate existing NERC science associated with the value and benefits of GI into fit for purpose delivery tools for policy and practice? How can we evaluate the added value of GI planning policies and interventions? How can we change/influence behaviour(s) of key actors in the planning arena regarding their valuation and use of GI?

Research Council: NERC

Orkney: Beside the ocean of time

Falmouth University

March 2016 – December 2017

A relatively short-term perspective is dominant in contemporary societies as they face the complicated ongoing consequences of landscape change on every aspect of the human life, from agriculture and provision of food and energy, to the protection of natural or cultural landscapes. This project will enable community dialogue about the ways in which the lived environment has been, and will continue to be, shaped by human and natural activity

Research Council: AHRC

Public perceptions of climate change in the immediate aftermath of major national flooding

Cardiff University

June 2014 – June 2015

The relationship between extreme weather and public attitudes is complex and still little understood. Reading across the evidence from both the national sample and those directly affected, our findings indicate that a significant association between the winter flooding of 2013/14 and climate change did indeed form in the British public mind both during and immediately after these events. 

Research Council: ESRC

Resilience of national transport networks to flood-induced bridge failures

Newcastle University

November 2016 – October 2019

WATCH THIS SPACE: This fellowship programme will develop a regional and national model for assessing and improving transport resilience to bridge vulnerabilities and failures from flood-induced phenomena on the transport network, and a method of prioritising investment to enhance resilience.

Research Council: EPSRC

Resource implications of adaptation of infrastructure to global change

Newcastle University

February 2010 – January 2015

Effective flood incident management (FIM) requires successful operation of complex, interacting human and technological systems. A dynamic agent-based model of FIM processes has been developed to provide new insights which can be used for policy analysis and other practical applications. The model integrates remotely sensed information on topography, buildings and road networks with empirical survey data to fit characteristics of specific communities. The multi-agent simulation has been coupled with a hydrodynamic model to estimate the vulnerability of individuals to flooding under different storm surge conditions, defence breach scenarios, flood warning times and evacuation strategies. A case study in the coastal town of Towyn in the United Kingdom has demonstrated the capacity of the model to analyse the risks of flooding to people, support flood emergency planning and appraise the benefits of flood incident management measures.

Research Council: EPSRC

Retrofitting Resilience

University of Cambridge

October 2013 – October 2017

Property-level adaptation: With an increasing number of properties at risk of flooding, we urgently need to assess the resilience of buildings and consider the consequences and benefits of adaptation. The research aims to: develop new tools and techniques for the assessment, data gathering, communication and visualisation of flood risk; more rigorously understand the consequences of flood events; consider the temporal aspects of resilience; and explore the value of using scenario testing within a mixed-method research framework.

Research Council: EPSRC

Safe & SuRe: towards a new paradigm for urban water management

University of Exeter

March 2013 – August 2018

Property level surface water management:

  • What measures can you apply to your own property? James Webber
  • Achieving resilience to extreme events through effective emergency planning – Sarah Bunney

Research Council: EPSRC

SME Guidance – organisational operational response and strategic decision making for long term flood preparedness in urban areas

University of Sheffield

December 2012 – June 2016

In conjunction with SMEs, this business guidance was developed to help prepare for and respond to the impacts of flooding in a handy checklist format. This guidance recommends ‘business continuity buddies’ for SMEs to prepare for the next flood; not if, but when!

Research Council: EPSRC

Climate scenarios in decision-making for adaptation of building and property drainage (DOWNPIPE)

Heriot-Watt University

October 2008 – September 2011

To realise potential benefits to property drainage design and adaptation by using projections of our future climate (UKCP09). This will allow the location and extent of any under-capacity to be identified and adaptation solutions proposed to reduce flood risk.