Rainfall research could help flood control

A new method of measuring rainfall accurately could help to improve flood control. Following a study in the Bolton area, the method, devised by the University of Essex and using dual-frequency microwave links, will now be tested in Italy and Germany.

The recent devastating floods in central Europe have demonstrated the need for accurate rainfall forecasting. To do so, it is essential to be able to measure the amount of rain falling along a particular path, particularly in situations where traditional methods fail.

Professor Anthony Holt of the Department of Mathematics at Essex said: ‘Large computer programmes which run weather predictions every six or 12 hours rely for their output on the accuracy of input information, which includes rainfall.’

Essex has been working collaboratively with the University of Salford, the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), the Met Office, United Utilities and the Environment Agency, Crown Castle International and Your Communications, on the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) funded project.

The Essex researchers have created and analysed an archive of data, and compared the results from the microwave links with those obtained from the more traditional rain gauges and radar methods.

The results are very encouraging, and demonstrate that microwave links are an excellent complement to raingauge networks and radar for use in hydrological forecasting. The method may be particularly useful in urban areas.

The method will now be used in the Irwell Valley in NW England, in the mountain valleys of Italy and around the Ruhr in Germany, as part of the European Commission-funded MANTISSA project.

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http://www.essex.ac.uk/news/

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