BHS Peter Wolf Symposium 2018

Frank O’Connell and Rosie Hampson attended the BHS Peter Wolf Symposium last week. Below, they tell us about the different sessions and the benefits of attending.


A two-day event, the Peter Wolf Symposium focuses on providing people in their early hydrological careers with the opportunity to learn about other science in the field, practise their presentation skills, and meet other like-minded scientists. The event itself is hosted by different organisations and in different locations each year, with this year’s taking place in the Canal and River Trust’s offices in Leeds, right beside the River Aire.

Natural Flood Management

JBA Sarah presenting on Modelling a multivariate world
Sarah presenting on Modelling a multivariate world

The first day’s activities mostly revolved around presentations and posters, with JBA being very well represented. Steve Rose, Technical Director, was the first speaker of the day, delivering a very interesting keynote presentation on Natural Flood Management, his personal field of expertise.

An hour and a few talks later we had another excellent presentation from JBA, this time from Sarah Warren, with her slightly tongue-twisting talk entitled ‘Modelling a multivariate world: How we applied advanced statistical methods to inform the new National Risk Assessment and support flood risk practitioners’.

After many more presentations from both academics and industry people alike (split up by lunch of course), Alan Comerford of the Canal and River Trust gave the closing talk of the day on their approach to hydrology on a day to day basis. It was very interesting to hear about canal hydrology in particular, as this topic is generally a bit more obscure than the more standard river hydrology a lot of us tend to deal with on a daily basis.

When the presentations were over, we had an hour or two break to allow people to check into their hotels, get changed etc. We then reconvened at the Adelphi hotel, where posters were displayed, drinks and dinner were consumed, and quizzes were answered (to varying degrees of success). “Quizteama Aguilera” (my team, also featuring Micheal O’Flatharta from JBA Newport) were absolutely robbed and came in third in the rivers/ocean themed quiz, but at least the Conquiztadors (featuring Sarah and Rosie Hampson from JBA Newcastle) were gracious victors. I’m sure the fact that they had the president of the BHS on their team didn’t help at all! It was a double win for Rosie, who also won best poster of the night entitled ‘Storm Desmond: Tyne Valley Recovery’, well deserved!

JBA Trust physical models

Day two was a more practical affair, kicking off with the JBA Trust demonstrating their physical models, including the mini-flume, the Augmented Reality Sandbox, and the Physical Augmented Relief Model, all brilliantly overseen by Alex Scott, JBA Trust Programme Manager, who flitted between the models all morning. The demonstrations were very successful, with plenty of engagement and discussions taking place between the demonstrators and viewers.

River Aire site visit

JBA Knostrop weir fishpass
Knostrop weir fishpass

Last on the agenda was a trip out on the River Aire on a boat to see various features of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme. This included disembarking at Knostrop weir for a better look and discussion with some council employees who gave a very illuminating talk on the scheme both beforehand, and with more details and discussion actually on site also. It was good to get out to see these features, as it’s often easy to forget that they exist in real life when you’re used to only viewing them on a computer screen day-to-day. Of course, of equal importance was the floating lunch we had on the way back upstream!

Once we reached the Canal and River Trust offices it was time to part ways, signifying an end to a great two days. Everything was brilliantly organised, so kudos to the two Sarah’s from the Canal and River Trust for a job well done. If you are in your early (or even relatively early) hydrological career, this is one event I would wholeheartedly recommend attending.

Rosie Hampson

A brilliant opportunity for knowledge sharing, the Peter wolf symposium was a great place to find out how others use hydrology in different ways, such as peatland hydrology and canal hydrology. It was also good to find out more about ongoing research within the field of hydrology from very local
case studies in UK through to international experience.

It was brilliant to have the opportunity to present at the Peter Wolf Symposium, showcasing local studies led by our Newcastle office, and to receive professional recognition for our work. I thoroughly enjoyed the event and found it a valuable and inspiring experience.

There were 14 oral presentations in total and six posters giving lots of variety and interest. Delegates came from a wide range of fields including consultancy, the Environment Agency, water companies, PhD students and the canal and river trust. I would strongly recommend anyone early in their career to participate in any way they can.

Want to know more?

Email Frank O’Connell for more information on the BHS Peter Wolf Symposium. You can also find out more on our flood and water management web pages.



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