Extreme rainfall and future climate change

Climate change is heating the planet. That’s a common fact that most people seem to recognise. Amongst the vast array of impacts this has on the earth, flooding is up there. The planet heats up, we get more water evaporation from oceans, seas, lakes etc, and we, therefore, get more rain and more extreme events than we are used to.

Extreme changes to the landscape are a prominent result of such extreme rainfall and flooding. We start to see infrastructure failures and increased sediment delivery when events such as Storm Gareth and Storm Imelda hit.

Hydromorphological and Geomorphology dynamics

There is, therefore, great importance in understanding the landscape when we build new infrastructure. We need to:

  • Observe channel dimensions and connectivity to floodplains (if present)
  • Understand the key pressures within our river systems
  • Characterise sediment processes and identify key sediment sources (which can naturally be released at times of flooding).

Understanding how historical influences have impacted our rivers and catchments, such as river channel redirection, is fundamental because changes which we made hundreds of years ago can still have an impact today.

Hydromorphology is an essential component of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and is a key indicator of the health of a river system. Knowledge of river hydromorphology and geomorphological dynamics, alongside flood risk, is essential for sustainable river design, restoration and future management. It facilitates the assessment of risk, increases understanding within the Environmental Impact Assessment process, helps alleviate flooding impacts and helps us restore rivers back to a more natural state.

River Ure Restoration – Jervaulx feasibility study

Our River Ure restoration project at Jervaulx Abbey in Yorkshire is a great example of how we can remove embankments and restore the important link between a river and its floodplain. We prepared a river restoration plan looking at land use and making space for water options under Countryside Stewardship to re-naturalise the river and its floodplain.

Click below to read the full case study.

Want to know more?

Email Matthew Hemsworth our lead Geomorphologist for more information on the Water Framework Directive and/or Hydromorphology/Geomorphology. You can also find out more on our flood and water management web pages.

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