Future water for food – About Drought at IRRIGEX 2019


If you are going to IRRIGEX on February 27-28, you can talk to our experts from the About Drought programme on Stand 10.
With many farmers unable to fill their reservoirs and time running out for winter fills, our leading researchers will be available at the two-day exhibition, in Peterborough, for informal conversations about the wealth of decision-supporting data About Drought has already made available.

Two of our team – Professors Ian Holman and Jerry Knox of Cranfield University also feature in the impressive programme of speakers and seminars.

In last summer’s drought some tools produced by About Drought – the £12m UK Drought & Water Scarcity Research Programme – were fast-tracked into real-time use in some sectors. Forecasts are currently indicating below average rainfall for this month and March so IRRIGEX is a timely opportunity to find out more about the tools available and how they can support your decision-making.

The theme for IRRIGEX this year is ‘Future water for food’ and it is free to attend. For full details visit www.irrigex.com. We look forward to meeting you on Stand 10.

About Drought briefing note 2: How to plan and manage water resources for public water supply

Image of front page of briefing note 2
Front page of About Drought briefing note 2 – How to plan and manage water resources for public water supply: future directions

This About Drought brief, How to plan and manage water resources for public water supply: future directions, looks at some risks, challenges and opportunities for supplies of safe and wholesome water to the UK population. It aims to help water planners and managers by presenting some of the most up-to-date approaches for dealing with uncertainty, including simulation and risk-based approaches, offering guidance on decision support tools and indicating future directions for planning and managing water resources. This is the second of a series of briefs to support improved decision making in relation to droughts and water scarcity.

The UK faces water supply shortages in the future, especially in London & the south-east. Increases in frequency & intensity of drought & high-precipitation events are projected in most regions. Uncertainty is ‘the new normal’ & conventional approaches to forecasting (based on past observed data) are less reliable than they were. To remain resilient in these uncertain conditions, the effective planning and management of public water resources is vital. Decision support for risk-based water resource planning is already available, and this brief aims to share some relevant findings from the DWS programme with water planners and managers, so that they can be put into practice moving forwards.

2018 World Water Week in Stockholm

World Water Week 2018
World Water Week 2018

In late August 2018 Prof Paul Whitehead attended the World Water Week in Stockholm. This is the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues. It was attended by over 3,300 individuals and around 380 convening organizations from 135 countries participated in the Week. Experts, practitioners, decision-makers, business innovators and young professionals from a range of sectors and countries come to Stockholm to network, exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions to the most pressing water-related challenges of today. The Water Prize attracts many entries each year; this year the junior prize went to two students from Singapore for producing reduced graphene oxide, a material that can be used to purify water, from agricultural waste products.

Paul attended many sessions and found these to be at a high level covering global issues with quite a focus on Africa this year. A strong reason for attending the meeting was to make contacts with others in the Water Sector, often at quite high levels. Paul rapidly got involved in a UN Habitats initiative to try to close the Sustainability Development Goal gaps, and in particular, ensure the provision of secure water for the entire world’s population. UN Habitats and other organisations (e.g. WHO) are very keen to close this gap; it is a massive task but projects are beginning to have an impact, in terms of new thinking and new methodology.

Meetings were well attended with people standing or sitting on the floor to get a space (see photo below). Paul found himself in the Dutch Embassy attending a packed event and discussing a wide range of topics from the MaRIUS Drought Project to new ways to measure the environment using biosensors, plus trying to persuade the Dutch to invest in Oxford Molecular Biosensors.

It was also a real pleasure to see so many Oxford Water MSc graduates at the meeting with at least 11 attending, representing their current organisations such as the World Bank, OECD, National Governments and Water NGOs from around the world. The evening get together on a Thai Boat in a Swedish Harbour was a great way to celebrate their success.

Introducing UK drought and water scarcity research to Korean audiences in Glasgow, United Kingdom

Jaeyoung Lee, who is a member of the MaRIUS project, received funding from the project to present her research at the 2018 Europe-Korea Conference on Science and Technology held in Glasgow, 20-24 August 2018. She describes her experience below.

Jaeyoung Lee
Jaeyoung Lee

Every summer, the Europe-Korea Conference on Science and Technology (EKC) brings together Korean scientists and engineers studying and working in Europe and in Korea. The conference aims to foster and develop new relationships, exchange knowledge and ideas and to promote science and technology that is of service to society. It also attracts European scientists and engineers interested in collaborating with Korean nationals. This year marked the 11th EKC, and it was held in Glasgow, UK from the 20th to the 24th of August 2018.

Science and Technology sessions provide an excellent opportunity for participants to exchange state of the art knowledge in comprehensive scientific areas ranging from basic science to engineering and policy. Ten groups with 42 specific sessions were on offer this year and my presentation was included in the basic science group, and the ‘Water on Earth: Rain, River and Ocean’ session. Many speakers were talking about their research within the Korean context, or Europe-Korean relationships or possible collaboration projects, whereas I shared my research in the UK context as part of the UK Drought and Water Scarcity programme.

I opened the presentation with a question, “Is there a drought in the UK?” As many of the Koreans in the audience are living in Europe and the UK and have experienced another dry and hot summer this year, a few started nodding, and many of them were curious about UK droughts. I started my presentation with how the MaRIUS project has started, and what we have been doing. I then brought the audience’s attention to my research on the ‘Dynamic water quality modelling in the Severn-Thames river systems and assessment of the impact of a water transfer in drought’. Inter-basin water transfer schemes have been discussed to tackle concerns on sustainability of water resources in the UK, and the Severn-Thames transfer scheme is one of the water resource development options under consideration by the Thames Water Utilities. The occurrence of severe drought events in past and climate change have highlighted the need for such transfer schemes. Key issues to examine and resolve relate to understanding water availability, water quality and the potential adverse biological impacts and it is important to ensure that both donor and receiving rivers are not adversely affected by the scheme. To explore possible risks and impacts of a water transfer on the Severn and Thames system, I applied newly developed MaRIUS climate change projection data (Weather at Home 2; W@H 2) to a hydrological model as well as a water quality model and then considered a set of hypothetical water transfer scenarios. I focused on my methodology and preliminary findings on water quality impacts including Dissolved Organic Carbon (DOC) concentrations in both river systems, which was driven by w@h 2 climate data. I got a few questions after the presentation, and the one we needed to discuss more was ‘the definition of drought’. As drought can mean different things to different people and is therefore defined in many ways, I explained the type of droughts including meteorological, agricultural, hydrological and socio-economical drought and the relevant risks and impacts.

I thoroughly enjoyed talking with people who are not familiar with drought research in the UK, but at the same time it was challenging to translate complex science into words that a more general audience can understand as well as find interesting. These are skills that scientists must develop to have any policy impact, so I thank the MaRIUS project for giving me this opportunity to do so.

Drought and Water Scarcity: addressing current and future challenges, International Conference

Poster advertising the About Drought conference on 20-21 March 2019

20-21 March 2019
Location: Pembroke College, Oxford University
Event organiser: UK Drought and Water Scarcity Research Programme
Event type: Conference
Bookings: book online

The UK Drought and Water Scarcity Research Programme is proud to announce its International Conference to be held at Pembroke College, Oxford University, over 20 and 21 March 2019.

DROUGHTS THREATEN SOCIETIES, ECONOMIES AND ECOSYSTEMS WORLDWIDE

They are costly natural hazards, feature on global risk registers, and are expected to become more severe due to the influence of climate change and pressure on water resources from economic and demographic changes.

This conference will take an international perspective on droughts affecting our world, covering themes of climatology, hydrology, risks and impacts of drought, planning, and impacts on communities.

Programme

The programme has now been finalised: view the poster and oral presentations (pdf).

Conference programme

Guest speakers

In addition to submitted abstracts, we have invited a number of esteemed researchers to speak on different aspects of drought, including:

  • Massimiliano Pasqui, CNR: A customizable drought monitoring and seasonal forecasting service to support different users’ needs
  • Anne van Loon, Birmingham University: Feedbacks between drought and society
  • Henny van Lanen, Wageningen University: Recent international experiences and the 2018 drought in NW Europe
  • Ian Holman, Cranfield University: Taking lessons from the 2018 drought forward into increased drought resilience in the agricultural sector
  • Mike Morecroft, Natural England: Impacts on the natural environment and lessons for climate change adaptation
  • Kerstin Stahl, Freiburg University: Customizing drought indices to improve drought impact monitoring and prediction
  • Rob Wilby, Loughborough University: Challenging the mantra of wetter-winters, drier summers in the UK

Please use the online booking system to reserve your space at the conference.
The conference spans over two days. Tickets are available for the whole conference (£90) and individual days (£50).
Accommodation can be booked, and is provided at Pembroke College comprising single ensuite rooms, with breakfast included (£80).

Contact: info@aboutdrought.info

Download the conference poster (PDF)
Download the programme (PDF)

Media response to an AboutDrought article

About Drought’s Len Shaffrey wrote an article in Conversation UK in July which triggered heatwave and drought articles across the UK media spectrum.
Len, who leads the About Drought IMPETUS project, improving predictions of drought to support decision-making, is particularly pleased to see climate change make The Sun front page.

Read his original article in Conversation UK.

If you want to promote your About Drought research, contact the project office on info@aboutdrought.info.

Montage of media coverage following Len Shaffrey's article on Conversation UK
Media coverage following Len Shaffrey’s article on Conversation UK

About Drought Showcase Review

Cover of the Showcase Review
Cover of the Showcase Review

The About Drought Showcase Review is available as an online magazine , featuring the high quality inter-disciplinary content from the About Drought Showcase held in March 2018. It is packed with useful presentations, links and information for people who attended as well as for those who did not. The Showcase Review also gives a detailed introduction for anyone new to the programme and its work.

It provides a comprehensive guide to:

  • The UK Drought & Water Scarcity Research Programme
  • Its four projects – DRY, IMPETUS, Historic Droughts and MaRIUS
  • The engagement project – ENDOWS
  • A documentary video filmed at the Showcase, including interviews with presenters and delegates
  • An overview of each session
  • Slides from presenters
  • Links to all the About Drought outputs and datasets

The purpose of About Drought is to share information, tools and datasets from the programme, continuing stakeholders engagement and further supporting evidence-based decision-making for the management and planning of drought and water scarcity.

Access the About Drought Showcase Review:

Drought media briefing at the Science Media Centre

Jamie Hannaford presents drought science to journalists at the Science Media Centre briefing
Jamie Hannaford presents drought science to journalists at the Science Media Centre briefing

Three experts from About Drought provided journalists with an insight into the impact of the UK summer drought – Jamie Hannaford, Professor Jim Hall and Professor Ian Holman. Answering questions from the Daily Mail, Press Association, BBC, Telegraph and Financial Times they presented detailed but accessible information on the pressure on water resources, highlighting the way new data from the programme is already supporting decision-makers, such as the Environment Agency. Articles were published in the Daily Mail, The Sun, Telegraph and Mail Online.

Articles which followed the Science Media Centre briefing on 4th September 2018
Jim Hall and Ian Holman answer journalists’ questions at the Science Media Centre briefing

UK-IWA Young Water Professionals Conference

16-18th April 2018
Location: Cranfield University
Event organiser: International Water Association (IWA)
Event type: Conference
Booking: Register online

Towards a Resilient Water Future

The UK-YWP is the best opportunity for young professionals working on the water to network, share skills, ideas and opportunities, and learn from each other. The Conference will have a mix of regular sessions, keynotes, PICO poster sessions, career fair, social and technical visits, and much more. Young Professionals from all sectors are welcome.

More information and online registration.