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Flood resilience funding

Boosting the resilience of urban areas against floods

Published on: 25 August 2023

£250,000 has been awarded to Newcastle University researchers to enhance flood resilience.

There is an urgent and increasing need to protect the UK’s natural and built environments from a surge in population growth, and severe weather events such as extreme floods and droughts caused by climate change.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Scientific Computing Department Centre of Excellence for Resilient Infrastructure Analysis has announced that £1.4 million has been awarded across eight UK-based projects to boost UK infrastructure resilience against these types of events.

Approximately £250 thousand of the £1.4 million has been awarded to two researchers at Newcastle University who aim to boost the resilience of urban areas against floods.

One of the two funded projects at Newcastle University is the Flood Infrastructure Resilience Model, led by Professor Richard Dawson. A digital tool that helps us understand how people and organisations react to floods and their aftermath. The model is being improved for public use, with updates to reflect current flood management practices, aiming to enhance overall flood readiness and response.

Richard Dawson, Professor of Earth Systems Engineering, Director of Research & Innovation, Newcastle University, said: “DAFNI is a unique platform, enabling the creation of a community of users to access hitherto unavailable computational tools. I am delighted that my model that simulates how people response to floods and allows policy makers to test emergency responses has been selected for funding that will update it and make it available to other academics and practitioners.”

The other project to receive funding at Newcastle University, led by Vassilis Glenis, is an advanced tool that helps us comprehend and simulate how cities manage rainwater flooding and storm overflows. The platform will enable professionals to create strategies for reducing overflow spills and rain-induced flooding in any UK urban area.

Vassilis Glenis, Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University’s School of Engineering, said: “Hydrodynamic models such as the CityCAT model developed at Newcastle are used to simulate these flood processes and try out innovative and affordable ways of reducing flooding and pollution, but to do this they must represent all the important details of how water flows in a city, so must include every road, every building, every pipe across quite large areas. This level of detail and large number of calculations needs a big computing platform, as well as ease of access and data handling to set up the model and share with multiple partners involved in the process."

Strengthening UK’s resilience against severe weather events

Using computational modelling on the Data & Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI), these eight projects strive to strengthen UK’s resilience against severe weather events and other complex challenges, reducing the risks of road closures, energy failures, sewer flooding, water and food shortages, as well as protecting underground infrastructure such as water pipes and electrical cables.

The funding not only highlights the importance of fortifying the UK’s natural and built environments but also underscores the critical need to combat potential losses arising from the growing impacts of climate change.

The outputs from the Centre of Excellence will be instrumental in providing policymakers, local councils, and private companies with the essential analysis and scenario-planning vital to ensure the UK is resilient against potential future risks.

The researchers who have been awarded a share of the £1.4 million are speaking at DAFNI’s annual conference taking place in the Sir Alexander Fleming building at Imperial College London on 12 September 2023. 

In Spring 2023, DAFNI opened the Centre of Excellence with £4 million in funding from the Building a Secure and Resilient World strategic theme at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The STFC Scientific Computing Department delivers the DAFNI programme for UKRI.

Dr Brian Matthews, DAFNI Facility Lead and leader of the Open Data Systems Group at the STFC Scientific Computing Department adds:

“These grants will support the momentum to deliver the Centre of Excellence for Resilient Infrastructure Analysis on DAFNI.  We were delighted with the quality and range of applications received and it was difficult to decide from the excellent projects put forward.  This first stage of funding will expand research on the DAFNI platform for the good of all research.”  (written by Marion and needs to be signed off by Brian)

Kristine Zaidi, Associate Director for Arts and Humanities Research Council and lead for the Building a Secure and Resilient World theme

“To build a more secure and resilient world we must put people at the heart of our research. The eight projects announced today will help communities of all sizes improve their ability to prevent and respond to threats from extreme weather occurrences. By working across disciplines and improving access to information, we can strengthen the UK’s resilience. I look forward to seeing the impact these projects will have on a wide range of sectors.”

Press release adapted with thanks from STFC.


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