Real Time Flood Forecasting and Warning Systems

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Real Time Flood Forecasting and Warning Systems

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This course has been replaced by Flood Modelling and Forecasting.

This course describes the principles and practice of real time flood forecasting and warning. The course covers overall system design, hydrological data systems, quantitative precipitation forecasting, flood forecasting methods for rivers and coasts, forecast uncertainty, warning systems and technology, emergency response and planning, and decision making under uncertainty. Current practice in the UK and internationally will be illustrated through case studies, and progress towards achieving best practice in the UK discussed.

Flood risk is increasing due to the growth in people and property living in flood plains, and the possible increase in flood hazard associated with climate change. Real-time flood forecasting and warning has become an important component of flood risk management strategies that seek to mitigate the impacts of floods on communities at risk by issuing timely and accurate forecasts and warnings of impending flooding. The aims of the course are therefore to:

  • describe the principles and practice of real-time flood forecasting and warning (RTFFW);
  • illustrate current practice with examples of RTFFW in the UK and internationally;
  • define future RTFFW best practice and how to move towards it.

Course Objectives

On completion of the course, delegates will:

  • understand tge requirements for RTF in different hydrological regimes;
  • have hands on experience of variety of RTF systems, their characteristics and capabilities.
  • be able to deploy the understanding of requirements and capabilities of methods in operating RTF systems;
  • have competence to specify suitable RTF systems.

Course Outline

  • Day 1
    • Overview. Role of real time flood forecasting and warning in flood risk management.
    • Benefits, requirements and performance.
    • Developing and using the flood forecast. Physical systems, processes, lags.
    • Component models, forecast uncertainty.
  • Day 2
    • Rainfall Forecasting: rainfall, radar, models.
    • Real-time Flood Forecasting Methods I: empirical, transfer function and ANN models.
    • Real-time Flood Forecasting Methods II: rainfall runoff models - conceptual and physically-based.
    • Real-time Flood Forecasting Methods III: flood routing models.
  • Day 3
    • Coastal Flooding: storm surge forecasting.
    • NFFS - the EA National Flood Forecasting System: overview and regional application.
    • Computer practical: rainfall-runoff modelling.
  • Day 4
    • The Joint Environment Agency and Met Office Flood Forecasting Centre for England and Wales.
    • The Morpeth Flood: physical and emergency response aspects.
    • Real-time Flood Forecasting Methods IV: Predictive uncertainty and its use to improve decision-making.
    • VIRTUAL FLOOD: A simulated flood event and warning response exercise.
  • Day 5
    • Real-time Flood Forecasting Methods V: Data Assimilation 1 - Application of the Kalman Filter and Ensemble Kalman Filter.
    • Real-time Flood Forecasting Methods V: Data Assimilation 2 - Combining data from different sensors (Radar/raingauges/satellite).
    • Case Studies of international real time flood forecasting and warning systems.
    • Review of course and wrap up.

Update to course content

Please note that our courses are reviewed regularly, both in response to feedback and so that information about recent research and developments can be included. Thus, content may be subject to change.

Who is the course aimed at?

A course for scientists, engineers and managers who have a professional interest in how real time flood forecasts are generated, and who require a deeper understanding of how decisions are made to issue flood warnings based on uncertain flood forecasts.


School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences
Industry Professionals
  • To be confirmed


Please contact the Professional Development Unit for details of fees.

The course fee includes tuition, course materials, lunch and refreshments.

[ Information about Cancellations ]

Academic Module Outline

This course is also delivered as a Module (code CEG8518) on at least one of the School's Masters programmes, the majority of which can be studied part time, making them suitable for those in employment. Delegates will attend with full and part time registered students. The Academic Module Outline is available via the University's Module Catalogue.

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Accredited by:
Accredited by Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management Real Time Flood Forecasting and Warning Systems accredited by Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management

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