HydEF stands for "Hydrological extremes and feedbacks in the changing water cycle".

Improving predictions of future floods and droughts

The scale problem in hydrological models (© Climatic Research Unit, UEA)

Society must face up to the implications of significant climate change, in particular increased risks from extreme floods and droughts. Management of these risks relies on scientific knowledge about future climate and its effects. However, the ability of scientists to predict the possible magnitudes of floods and droughts, and the frequency with which they are expected to occur, is very limited. In many locations, scientists cannot yet agree on whether local climate will become wetter or drier.

For example, drought planning is a particular concern in the UK. It requires rainfall and evaporation to be represented accurately at daily to annual time scales, however we do not yet know how this can be achieved using climate and hydrological science, and what new science and models are needed. In addition, in order to predict future climate, the energy and moisture movement (evaporation) from the land surface to the atmosphere and oceans needs to be estimated with sufficient accuracy; yet at the moment the methods used are very simplistic, for example they neglect or greatly simplify the role of groundwater.

Objectives of the HydEF project

This project is producing the science and models needed to address these and other questions, with climatologists, hydrologists, hydrogeologists, water resource planners and mathematicians working together to help develop a new generation of water cycle models. Specifically, the project is:

  1. Exploiting current generation climate science and statistical methods to improve and enhance projections of potential change;
  2. Developing innovative methods for the modelling of the hydrological response to climate variability and extremes under climate change;
  3. Seeking to improve the representation of hydrological processes in water cycle models, in particular, the enhanced modelling of the role of sub-surface processes.

In addressing these gaps in knowledge, the project crosses all four themes of NERC's Changing Water Cycle programme: land-atmosphere interactions; precipitation modelling; understanding of change; and innovative ways to assess consequences. Case studies will include the Thames catchment, the Eden catchment and the Isle of Wight, which represent the conditions over much of the UK.

Publications and media coverage

IOP Publishing media report on the press coverage of the journal article “Future changes in atmospheric rivers and their implications for winter flooding in Britain” (David A Lavers et al. 2013 Environmental Research Letters 8 03410) Published July 2013. [PDF 1.9 MB]

Future changes in atmospheric rivers and their implications for winter flooding in Britain
David A Lavers, Richard P Allan, Gabriele Villarini, Benjamin Lloyd-Hughes, David J Brayshaw and Andrew J Wade
Environmental Research Letters, 8, 034010 DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/034010, 2013

The detection of atmospheric rivers in atmospheric reanalyses and their links to British winter floods and the large-scale climatic circulation
Lavers, D.A., G. Villarini, R.P. Allan, E.F. Wood, and A.J. Wade
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 117, D20106, DOI:10.1029/2012JD018027, 2012

HydEF inception report (March 2011)

Key project members of HydEF

Principle Investigator: Dr Adrian Butler, Imperial College London

Co-Principal Investigators:

Professor Richard Chandler, University College London

Professor Andrew Wade, University of Reading

Dr Andrew Hughes, British Geological Survey


Dr David Brayshaw, University of Reading

Professor Richard P Allan, University of Reading

Prof Nigel Arnell, University of Reading

Dr Christian Onof, Imperial College London

Emeritus Professor Howard Wheater, Imperial College London

Dr Andrew Hughes, British Geological Survey

Dr Chris Jackson, British Geological Survey

Research staff:

Dr Nataliya Le Vine, Imperial College London

Dr David Lavers, University of Reading

Dr Chiara Ambrosino, University College London

Stephanie Bricker, British Geological Survey

David Macdonald, British Geological Survey

© NERC 2016  |  Contact us  |   Privacy  |  Terms of use  |  Feedback
This site is hosted by the British Geological Survey but responsibility for the content of the site lies with the Changing Water Cycle project not with the British Geological Survey. Questions, suggestions or comments regarding the contents of this site should be directed to Emily Crane