Improving PMP and PMF estimation for reservoir safety in the UK
Assessing the suitability of existing methods and developing new guidelines to understand the risk posed to our reservoirs from extreme flood events.
We led a team of industry-leading collaborators, with advice from researchers in the USA working at the forefront of modelling extreme weather, in the first phase of this project to improve UK methods for assessing reservoir safety.
- Client Environment Agency
- Location UK-wide
- Collaborators Wallingford HydroSolutions, National Centre for Atmospheric Science, Newcastle University, University of Bath, Mott MacDonald
Reviewing the methods that underpin the resilience of essential infrastructure in a changing climate
There have been some high-profile near misses with UK dam safety in recent years, most recently at Toddbrook Reservoir in August 2019. Most large dams in the UK are ageing assets that have operated safely for many years. Their future resilience needs to be assured in a changing climate.
There is growing scientific evidence that climate change is increasing the intensity of even the most extreme rain storms. Yet current methods do not make any allowance for the impact of past or future climate change on the Probable Maximum Precipitation (PMP) and The Probable Maximum Flood (PMF).
The Probable Maximum Flood (PMF) is used to check the safety of Category A dams in the UK, where a dam breach could endanger lives in downstream communities. Category A dam spillways must be able to discharge the flow of the PMF without endangering the safety of the dam. The PMF is calculated from a theoretical Probable Maximum Precipitation (PMP).
Methods and data used to derive PMP and PMF in the UK have not been significantly updated since 1975. However, several rainfall and catastrophic flow events have been observed exceeding existing PMP and PMF estimates. Management of dam safety is moving toward a risk-based approach, which needs information that current PMF methods cannot provide
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