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Flood mitigation schemes in rural communities in the south west of England


Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing

About the Project

There have been several severe flood events in southwest England in recent years, including Boscastle in 2004, Dawlish in 2014 and Coverack in 2014 and July 2017. The causes have been either ‘extreme’ rainfall or ‘extreme’ sea conditions resulting from severe storms. With climate models showing ever increasing probabilities of similar – or worse – weather conditions in the future, the issue of flood mitigation strategies has once again gained prominence.

It is not possible to remove all the flood risk but there is an urgent need to better understand the impacts of these kinds of events, the effectiveness of conventional flood and sea defence structures, the impacts of physical or structural assets arising from southwest England’s industrial past and their roles in mitigating the impacts of flooding, and the role of sustainable construction in flood mitigation. For example, many existing sea walls and coastal defence structures were not designed for sea defence (from flooding) but for coastal protection (from erosion) such as to stabilise coastal slopes and prevent further failures. Do such alternative purposes limit the ability of such structures to mitigate both coastal and fluvial flooding?

This project aims to identify and define the interrelationships between flood-producing weather events and corresponding flooding impacts, and existing infrastructure that could mitigate or indeed exacerbate flooding. This will include a detailed analysis of hydrometric gauge data and engineering design guidelines in conjunction with climate change forecasts and possibly also with catchment runoff modelling, to quantify the additional flood risks arising from changing magnitude-frequency relationships for flood-producing weather events. Similar analyses will then be applied to hypothetical scenarios for future flood mitigation arising from the increased use of sustainable construction such as permeable paving for roads and footpaths, green roofs, green walls and rainwater harvesting. It is anticipated that the findings will indicate a clear optimum strategy for future flood mitigation around the coastline of southwest England.

The project can address relevant issues anywhere between ‘civil engineering’ and ‘hydrology’, although the primary focus is on flood risk management. The project facilities already exist and relevant supervision expertise is available.

Pre-requisites: Ideally an MSc in Flood Risk Management, Environmental Management, Engineering Hydrology or similar; otherwise it is essential to have a BEng or BSc in Civil Engineering (First Class) with a substantial ‘hydraulics’ component or a BSc Geography (First Class) with a substantial ‘applied hydrology’ component.

Funding Notes

There is no funding for this project: applications can only be accepted from self-funded candidates

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