Centre for Water Systems research students Kimberly Bryan and Arshan Iqbal at The Taiwan Typhoon Flood Research Institute 

Exeter to help pioneer crucial global flooding and risk management research

Scientists from Exeter’s Centre for Water Systems have received four research grants worth almost £200,000 in total to pioneer new techniques to minimise the risks of catastrophic flooding in Asia, Europe and the USA.

The substantial grants strengthen Exeter’s position as a leading global research university. They also come as the CWTS Leiden Ranking 2015, which use a sophisticated set of indicators to highlight both the scientific impact and involvement in scientific collaboration of more than 700 universities, placed Exeter in the top 40 in the world.

Professor Dragan Savic, an expert in the field of Hydroinformatics at the University of Exeter, said: “These substantial grants will enable Exeter, through partnerships with institutions in China, Taiwan and the USA, to research the next generation of crucial systems to combat the rising threat of flooding across the globe.
“With each passing year, the threat of flooding grows ever greater, and the time for action is now. These critical research projects will help provide vital flood management systems and initiatives to the parts of the world that need it most.”
The largest grant is for £150,000 for a project entitled “Flood Impact Assessment In Mega Cities Under Urban Sprawl and Climate Change”. In Partnership with Tsingua University, China and the University of Central Florida, the project aims to investigate the future flood impact as the consequence of the combination of urban development and climate change in three mega cities - London, New York and Beijing. The results can inform urban planners about the potential increase of flood risk such that better urban development strategies can be developed and implemented to mitigate flood impact.

The remaining three projects have received funding of £12,000 each.
In partnership with the National Taiwan University, the project “Development of real-time flash flood mapping and early warning system” will look at significant damage flash flooding brings to human life and properties around the world. The research aims to utilise the real-time observations in hydrology and hydraulic models to evaluate the flooding extent based on latest weather condition, combining with state-of-the-art communication technology, once the hotspots are identified, the early warning will be sent to the residents and stakeholders in those affected areas.

The project “Real time flash flood forecasts with nowcasting rainfall from radar observations”, in partnership with the Taiwan Typhoon and Flood Research Institute, aims to develop a real time system that uses the rainfall predictions from weather radar observations to forecast flash floods. The use of radar data will enable the system to update the meteorological information frequently and in a timely way such that more accurate predictions can be achieved.
Working alongside Tsinghua University in China, the project “Hydrodynamic analysis of urban features with physical and numerical experiments” aims to improve management of flood risk in urban areas by developing a novel numerical model that can describe the influences of key micro-features (e.g., building openings, alleyways, etc.) for urban flood simulations using physical experiments.
Dr Albert Chen, a Senior Research Fellow in Exeter’s Engineering department added: “We are delighted to have been able to take such a leading role in these substantial and pivotal projects. By looking at the effects of flooding on a global scale, we can help to solve one of the greatest threats facing mankind not just now, but in the future, and hopefully significantly reduce the risk of flooding worldwide for generations to come.”

Date: 4 September 2015

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