Impact & engagement

Centre for Earth Systems Engineering Research seeks to have impact in academic terms and to act as a positive force for change in policy and engineering practice - thus 'Impact and engagement' with stakeholders and the wider public are central to our programme.  Our research has had an impact at the highest levels of government and industry through a wide range of agenda setting activities.  Some detailed case studies can be found in the menu, but others include:


  • The national scale flood risk analysis method developed by Hall et al (2003) was implemented with consultants HR Wallingford and Halcrow in the 'National Flood Risk Analysis 2002' project and subsequent annual updates, which were reported to the Treasury as a performance indicator.  This work won the 2003 Robert Alfred Carr prize from the Institution of Civil Engineers.
  • Undertook a critical Infrastructure hotspot analysis for Infrastructure UK. During summer 2013, Stuart Barr and David Alderson, with colleagues in the ITRC, delivered a national infrastructure ‘hotspots’ analysis for Infrastructure UK, making use of the unique modelling capability available in NISMOD-RV. The hotspots analysis identified critical infrastructure locations, where criticality is measured in terms of the number of customers directly or indirectly dependent on an asset.

  • The same method was used to generate national flood risk estimates under scenarios of climatic and socio-economic change in the Office of Science and Technology's Foresight: Future Flooding study.  
  • CESER researchers developed the uncertainty analysis method use in the Thames Estuary 2100 (TE2100) long term flood management study to ensure policy makers understood how robust their decisions would be to modelling assumptions.
  • The Sustainable Management of the West Bank and Gaza Aquifers (SUSMAQ) supported the Palestinian Water Authorities case in the Final Status Negotiations with Israel over water. Outputs including technical reports, a summary report and two films can be accessed at the website of a new NGO, House of Water and Environment, which is building upon the capacity established under SUSMAQ.
  • The Environment Agency Weather Generator (EARWIG), developed jointly by CESER and the University of East Anglia is now in use throughout the Environment Agency and formed the basis for the first ever UK catchment-scale climate change adaptation study on the river Wear.
  • EARWIG was extended by the CESER team and UEA to provide the rainfall generator for the UKCP09 climate scenarios, placing the UK at the forefront of the shift to risk-based adaptation decision making.  Overall uptake of this tool has been enormous: it was run 16,132 times by 1338 unique users from 2009 to May 2013, and a national portfolio of RCUK funded programmes with industrial partners rely on the UKCP09 e.g. the EPSRC Adaptation and Resilience in a Changing Climate Coordination Network.
  • Our weather generator models have been used by a wide range of companies and organisations.  For example, Government Office North East commissioned a Climate Change Adaptation study (2008), the project which was led by Royal Haskoning, was awarded the Institution of Civil Engineers Stephenson Award for Sustainability (2009).  Also of note is the UKWIR (UK Water Industry Research Ltd.) project “Climate Change Modelling for Sewerage Networks” which resulted in the provision of guidance on incorporating climate change impacts into the modelling of sewerage networks.  The software tool “WRAPT” (which uses WG outputs) commissioned by UKWIR is the new national water industry standard recommendation.  
  • "Post UKCP09" developments of our weather modelling tools have developed more robust approaces to analysing possible future drought risks which were used to formulate Souther Water’s water resources management plan submitted to industry regulators, Ofwat. This planning case is valued at £283.4 million as SW serves around 4 million customers and was published in draft for consultation in May 2013.Collaborations with partners for international WG applications are underway with Deutsche Wetter Dienst (Germany), Global Change Impact Studies Centre (Pakistan) and Caribbean meteorological agencies.
  • As members of the Tyndall Centre Coasts programme we have demonstrated the effects of changing marine climates on coastal flood and erosion risk. This work has taken place over an unusually broad spatial scale and extended temporal scale (up to 100 years in the future). Outputs from the modelling have been linked with a GIS to develop a visualisation of the evolving coastal environment to improve participation and communication with coastal communities. The work, reported here (and here), is having a significant influence on the policy debate concerning coastal governance in the UK, and through engagement with communities in North Norfolk where the case study is situated.

  • CESER research has had a prominent impact on key national documents used by the water industry, regulators, and land managers. Paul Quinn was invited to speak on his work relating to Natural Flood Management at the House of Commons Office of Science and Technology (Jan 2012). This Parliamentary review meeting was set up to help refine the inputs to the governments Environment White Paper (see PostNote).  The 2004 Newcastle-led DEFRA report FD2114, ‘Review of impacts of rural land use and management on flood generation’  provided the basis for building the research evidence supporting national policy, policy review and regulation documents, and informed the role of land use and land management in delivering flood risk management. 
  • Internationally, the World Bank-funded Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) engaged CESER researchers to develop the first water resources model of the full Nile basin that uses consistent quality-assured shared data from the nine riparian countries as part of a Nile Basin Decision Support System (DSS), enabling a shared approach to catchment management. An indepdendent international review panel concluded that "the data management and modelling tools developed largely by Newcastle University had provided a key part of the NBI DSS, and recommended that they be used operationally by the NBI countries"


A selection of papers can be found in the publications section.

Key publications

Collaborative platform to facilitate engineering decision-making

This paper presents the concept of a decision theatre and describes how this approach was tested with a range of stakeholders and to investigate the effectiveness of adaptation options to surface water flooding...

Last modified: Sun, 07 Apr 2013 16:45:16 BST

A methodology for national flood risk analysis

This paper presents a methodology for national scale flood risk assessment in England and Wales and won the Robert Alfred Carr prize from the Institution of Civil Engineers in 2004.

Last modified: Tue, 04 Dec 2012 09:16:53 GMT

Engineering Cities: Tyndall Centre PDF 2,516Kb

This report introduces the Tyndall Centre Urban Integrated Assessment Facility and a case study on London.

Integrated analysis of risks of coastal flooding & cliff erosion under scenarios

The risks to human populations in coastal areas are changing due to climate and socio-economic changes, and these trends are predicted to accelerate during the twenty-first century....

Last modified: Tue, 04 Dec 2012 09:03:16 GMT