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Coastal flooding research by HR Wallingford and Environment Agency awarded ICE medal for Research and Innovation

Posted: 09-Oct-2018

New research undertaken on behalf of the Environment Agency by scientists at HR Wallingford has been recognised by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), with the award of the Bill Curtin Medal for Research and Innovation at the ICE Publishing Awards ceremony, held at One Great George Street in London on Monday 8 October 2018. The awards recognise authors from both industry and academia who have produced work judged by their peers to be of exceptional quality and of benefit to the civil engineering, construction and materials science community.

The UK coast has a long history of severely disruptive coastal flooding which occurs when extreme waves and sea levels coincide. This means that to realistically assess flood risk analysis, and for the effective design of future coastal structures, it is vital to consider the joint likelihood of these events occurring together. Traditional methods of assessing this can lead to the underestimation of flood risk and, consequently, the under-design of coastal structures.

The key to the new risk-based approach described in the paper, ‘Multivariate extreme value modelling of sea conditions around the coast of England’ is that it is risk-based and focuses on extreme impacts, rather than the defining joint extremes of sea conditions.

Prof Ben Gouldby, Chief Technical Director Flood Risk at HR Wallingford, said: “The output of our research is a dataset that represents 10,000 years’ worth of extreme storm events that have been transformed via a sequence of computer models from offshore to every flood defence in England. This has been used to enhance our understanding of flood risk for England, and so improve the design of new coastal structures.”

Lynsay McLean at the Environment Agency, said: “The development of this new coastal flooding model supports the government initiative to improve on information relating to the analysis of the UK’s level of flood risk. Outputs from the study can potentially be used for flood risk analysis on a national and local scale, and for future climate change impact assessments.”

‘Multivariate extreme value modelling of sea conditions around the coast of England’ is free to view on the ICE Virtual Library indefinitely in the Maritime Engineering Research and Innovation category.  The paper, which can be downloaded here, was first published in the Journal of Maritime Engineering: Volume 170 Issue 1, March, 2017, pp. 3-20.

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