UK Water Industry Research and Future Drainage

Location: UK                 Client: UK Water Industry Research and NERC/Newcastle University

These two projects are providing climate change guidance and tools for use by the UK water industry and flood risk community, making use of convection-permitting Met Office climate models. 


Rainfall intensity and how this might change in the future is of key importance to the water industry, flood risk managers and infrastructure owners. The changing patterns and intensities of rainfall now and into the future affect both flood risk and urban pollution management. Until recently, climate models have not been able to explicitly resolve the processes in the atmosphere that give rise to the most intense rainfall


Due to the advent of climate models that operate on scales that are ‘convection-permitting’ we are now in a position to assess how future rainfall intensity and patterns of rainfall might change. Using experienced meteorologists and climate science interpreters, we are addressing these issues to provide guidance and tools to meet user needs. 

Convection-permitting climate models are able to represent the daily cycle of rainfall, and rainfall characteristics like intensity, duration and frequency of occurrence, much better than coarser resolution models that have been used previously. They can help us to understand how short-duration intense rainfall events and flash floods might change in the future.  

For the FUTURE-DRAINAGE project led by Newcastle University, in partnership with the Met Office, we are providing guidance for the water industry and flood risk community on how to apply the rainfall intensity change estimates derived from the Met Office 2.2km UKCP18 climate model and use the information in its surface water models to assess changes in flood impact. 

For a new project for UKWIR (UK Water Industry Research), we are leading a team made up of Stantec, Newcastle University and the Met Office to update the existing rainfall time series perturbation tool, RED-UP, that derives future rainfall time series for use by UK water companies. This tool is being widely used by the water industry to assess impacts of future rainfall patterns on sewer systems. We are also assessing how design rainfall aspects such as the storm profile and antecedent conditions might change in the future.


FUTURE-DRAINAGE will deliver nationally important research outputs for uptake by government agencies and industrial sectors to improve climate change adaption and resilience in the UK.  

The UKWIR project will provide an important tool for climate resilience in the water industry and help to address UKWIR’s big question’ on how zero uncontrolled discharges from sewers is achieved by 2050. 

Want to know more?

For more information about either of these projects email Murray Dale, or for more on our work in this area visit our climate resilience web page.

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