Exciting new research published by joint FCERM Research and Development Programme

Here at JBA, research and development are at the core of what we do. We’re proud to have been appointed as lead Research Contractor working in partnership with the Environment Agency on two papers recently published by the joint Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Research and Development programme:

  • Review of groundwater flood risk management in England
  • Understanding river channel sensitivity to geomorphological changes.

This research was commissioned by the Joint FCERM Research and Development Programme, which is overseen by Defra, the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and the Welsh Government on behalf of all risk management authorities in England and Wales.

What has been published?

Review of groundwater flood risk management in England

A multi-disciplinary team from JBA worked with specialists from the Environment Agency to review and report on current approaches to managing groundwater flood risk across England.

Sharing current practice will help risk management authorities and others carry out their roles and responsibilities as set out in the national flood and coastal erosion risk management (FCERM) strategy for England (2020).                              Review of groundwater flood risk management in England – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Their research included a comprehensive literature review, alongside surveys sent to risk management authorities and partner organisations, and interviews with stakeholders. The project review looked at governance, recording flooding incidents, flood risk assessment, flood forecasting and warning, mitigation action, and gaps against the national FCERM strategy.

This newly published report identifies where improvements could be made in practice and skills, to help target future work in groundwater flood risk management.

Understanding river channel sensitivity to geomorphological changes

In extreme floods, river channels can change rapidly with some rivers even altering their course, damaging bridges and properties. Our team of experts worked in partnership with the Environment Agency to assess and predict where river channels are affected by geomorphological change across England and Wales.

If we improve our understanding of how rivers function and react, we can manage flood risk, and plan for and work with, river channel change better.                                                                                                                                          Understanding river channel sensitivity to geomorphological changes – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

A literature review identified methods that could be used to model areas of potential erosion and deposition in rivers, and two further methods were developed by the team. The shortlist of four methods were applied in three river catchments (one upland, one lowland and one transitional) to model ‘hotspots’ of river channel change. The methods and results were reviewed against multi-criteria analysis to understand their strengths and weaknesses.

A further, more extensive trial was carried out on the Shear Stress Data Mining method, a novel method developed and tested by JBA. We re-used the hazard data outputs from the 2m resolution Risk of Surface Water Flooding maps that we helped the EA to create. This entailed deriving an estimate of shear from the depth, velocity and roughness grids from the original hydraulic modelling, and then comparing this to estimates of critical shear stress for a range of scenarios nationally to identify channels likely to be erosive or depositional.

The research also found that a dominant influencing factor of channel change in extreme flooding is bedrock/valley confinement or confinement due to human activity, such as floodplain infrastructure and in-channel structures.

Overall, this research can be used to inform resilient and sustainable channel maintenance, channel and environment management that works with natural processes, and re-naturalising rivers. It can also be used to target more complex modelling for site-specific investigations.

Want to know more?

You can read the full published reports here:

Email Susan Wagstaff for more information about our work on the Review of groundwater flood risk management in England.

E-mail Dr Natasha Todd-Burley or Dr Barry Hankin for more information about our work on Understanding river channel sensitivity to geomorphological changes.  They will be co-presenting the research with colleagues from the Environment Agency on 24th June 2021, at the postponed virtual FLOODrisk 2020 – the 4th European Conference on Flood Risk Management



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