Drought research

Droughts and water scarcity jointly pose a substantial threat to the environment, agriculture, infrastructure, society and culture in the UK, yet our ability to characterise and predict their occurrence, duration and intensity, as well as minimise their impacts, is often inadequate.

The UK Droughts & Water Scarcity research programme is a five-year interdisciplinary, £12 million+ NERC programme in collaboration with ESRC, EPSRC, BBSRC and AHRC. It is supporting improved decision-making in relation to droughts and water scarcity by providing research that identifies, predicts and responds to the interrelationships between their multiple drivers and impacts.

The programme’s research is UK-focused, and contributes to NERC’s natural hazards and climate system strategic science themes.

Four projects are funded under the UK Droughts & Water Scarcity programme:

  • Historic Droughts : Understanding past drought episodes to develop improved tools for the future
  • IMPETUS : Improving predictions of drought to inform user decisions
  • MaRIUS : Managing the risks, impacts and uncertainties of drought and water scarcity
  • DRY : Drought risk and you

The UK Droughts & Water Scarcity programme has recently (April 2017) funded the final phase of the Programme that will build on the co-ordinated work of the four research projects to maximise the impact of the Programme for a diverse range of stakeholders in droughts and water scarcity. AboutDrought will provide access to all the outputs of the UK Droughts & Water Scarcity programme.

There will be a particular focus on outputs for stakeholders in five sectors, as follows:

  • The water supply sector: public water supply companies and umbrella organisations like Water UK and UKWIR; regulators charged with security-of-supply (EA, SEPA, NRW) and economic regulation (OFWAT); and policymakers (Defra and devolved administrations).
  • The agricultural sector: embracing farmers, growers, processing and supply chains, represented through the individual farmers as well as organisations such as the NFU, UKIA, and AHDB.
  • For environmental stakeholders: stakeholders charged with environmental protection or regulation (e.g. EA, NRW, SEPA, Natural England), alongside conservation groups such as Rivers Trusts.
  • For UK business: including stakeholders undertaking a wide range of commercial activities, who may be concerned with DWS owing to significant dependence on water for abstraction. This includes commercial and industrial water users (from large companies to SMEs), the energy industry, as well as insurers.
  • For communities: wider publics and different groups defined by demographics, ethnicity etc. and those organisations that support them in resilience planning.