Flood Risk from Extreme Events (FREE)

Programme overview

The Flood Risk from Extreme Events (FREE) Programme used research to help build flood prediction models so that flooding events can be identified minutes, weeks and even decades in advance.

The programme used environmental science to investigate the physical processes involved in generating extreme events, and to identify what causes and propagates floods. The aim was to help forecast and quantify flood risk, and inform our society about the likely effects of climate change.

Background & objectives

Climate change will probably bring more frequent and intense storms to the UK, in turn bringing more floods. In recent years flood damage has cost the UK about £1 billion each year, so it is essential that we improve our ability to forecast, quantify and manage flood risks, and mitigate the effects of climate variability and change.

The FREE programme brought researchers from the hydrological, meteorological, terrestrial and coastal oceanography communities together in an integrated research programme for the first time.

Reports & key findings

The following case studies are linked to this research programme.

Clouds-to-coast prediction of flood risks (PDF, 76KB)
Synopsis: By modelling atmospheric conditions, waves, surges, tides, beach profile changes and sea defence response, this project is creating new ways of predicting extreme coastal flooding in the UK.

Research will improve local storm and flash flood forecasts (PDF, 74KB) (PDF, 74KB)
Synopsis: Using new radar techniques to observe the early stages of evolving storms, scientists are developing improved forecast models. These should give better warnings of sudden heavy rainfall, which can lead to flash flooding.