Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New national database of coastal flooding launched


Scientists have compiled a new database of coastal flooding in the UK over the last 100 years, which they hope will provide crucial information to help prevent future flooding events.

'SurgeWatch' contains information about 96 large storms taken from tide gauge records, which record sea levels back to 1915. It shows the highest sea levels the storms produced and a description of the coastal flooding that occurred during each event.

Waves batter the coast at Chesil Beach during the storm of Feb. 4-6, 2015.

Credit: Tim Poate and Gerd Masselink

The database, which is described in the journal Scientific Data, has been produced by a team of researchers, led by the University of Southampton and including scientists from the National Oceanography Centre and the British Oceanographic Data Centre.

Lead author Dr Ivan Haigh, Lecturer in Coastal Oceanography at the University of Southampton, says: "The winter of 2013/14 saw some of the UK's most extreme sea levels, waves and coastal flooding for several decades. During this period storms repeatedly subjected large areas of our coast to enormous stress and damage, reminding us of the real and ever-present risks and challenges facing coastal communities today."

Professor Kevin Horsburgh, Head of Marine Physics and Ocean Climate at the National Oceanography Centre, says: "This new database allows us to improve our understanding of the statistics of extreme sea levels around the UK. Coastal flooding remains a threat to life and to economic and environmental assets. Even if there is no future change in European storminess, the slow rise in mean sea level will increase the number of times that defence thresholds are exceeded. This database is a useful tool for coastal engineers and planners who are concerned with changes to extreme sea levels."

SurgeWatch is free and accessible to a range of users, including scientists, coastal engineers, managers and planners. The team aim to expand and update the database and are appealing for the help of the general public.

Dr Matthew Wadey, a postdoctoral researcher in Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton, adds: "Do you have any photographs of coastal flooding from recent or past events, which you are willing to share with us? We would like to compile and investigate these in order to improve our understanding of exactly which areas were flooded and to what water depth. Photos can be easily uploaded to our website."

Prompted by people asking "Just how unusual was the 2013/14 season?" the researchers spent over 18 months compiling records of high sea level events and coastal flooding going back 100 years. Using meteorological data, they were able to identify the large storms that produced these high sea levels, investigate the weather conditions and track of each storm. They then spent many thousands of hours reading old reports, books, news articles, blogs and websites, to estimate the extent and scale of the coastal flooding.

Elizabeth Bradshaw, data scientist at the British Oceanographic Data Centre, says: "Was the 2013/14 season unusual? Yes, very much so. Seven out of the 96 events in the 100-year database occurred during the 2013-14 storm surge season. Two of the events (5 and 6 December 2013 and 3 January 2014) are ranked in the top ten, in terms of height of sea levels. Both of these events also rank highly in terms of spatial footprints, i.e. they impacted very large stretches of the UK coast."

Robert Nicholls, Professor of Coastal Engineering at the University of Southampton, adds: "The fact that the damage was so limited during the December 2013 and January 2014 storms, compared to the tragedy of January 1953, during which 307 people were killed along the UK's North Sea coast, is thanks to significant government investment in coastal defences, flood forecasting and sea level monitoring. It is therefore vital we continue to invest in defences, forecasting and monitoring and continue to update this new database."

Media Contact

Glenn Harris


Glenn Harris | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Oceanographic Oceanography coastal flooding damage forecasting levels sea level sea levels season storms

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union

nachricht UM researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life
19.10.2016 | University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>