Climate change projections indicate that extreme events will increase in their frequency and severity in the future. An improved understanding of the drought events of the past can inform current and future management. In this talk, Lucy demonstrates how reconstructed river flows have enabled consistent, national scale characterisation of historic hydrological droughts and how access to current and historic data can support ongoing drought monitoring activities.
The work originates from a number of projects including Historic Droughts and the About Drought programme and you can view the talk below.
“About Drought has informed the water industry, now we need some sort of mechanism to identify the most useful outputs from strategic to operational products. We must not let those fall through a crack now that About Drought has finished.”
Paul Crockett, Principal Officer, Environment Agency
Drought has helped generate a step change in thinking around what is possible
and what can be done, and over the next 10 years or so we will be making better
decisions, using better tools because of it,” says Paul Crockett who is leading
the modelling work on the National Water Resources Planning Framework for the
who has worked closely with the MaRIUS project and About Drought (ENDOWS),
believes there is still more to be done in encouraging the water industry to
catch up with the latest outcomes of the programme’s data and tools.
Real-time decision-making support for
the water industry
Drought has supported the water industry in both strategic planning and
real-time decision-making during a time when it has come under pressure to
collaborate across water company boundaries on regional forward planning, as
well as approaches to dealing with issues as they arise with a greater level of
MaRIUS and ENDOWS have held a series of workshop events specifically for the industry, working alongside key stakeholders to match its research to their needs.
National Water Resources Planning Framework driving water companies to work
together to build resilience into water management with clear, joined-up
direction from Government departments, agencies and water regulators, the
industry is now more ready to be receptive, Paul feels.
“There are a lot of great products from MaRIUS and About Drought but the water
industry – the customer, if you like – is only just seeing the potential.”
Improving the industry’s
understanding of statistics
Historic Droughts’ work in reconstructing reliable rainfall, river flow and groundwater data back to 1890, as well as providing standardised drought indices has been important in putting events into context, improving the industry’s understanding of statistics, the latest methodologies and stakeholder needs. There is still more to be done in migrating data from the academic models to those the water companies use.
resource model developed by MaRIUS is being adopted for use by Paul’s team, to
help the National Water Resources Planning Framework assess the potential
effects of different types of drought and climate change impacts at a national
scale, and test management strategies.
Giving the water industry better
knowledge and insights
concern is that with the impacts of climate change starting to be felt on the
reliability of water availability, it is the wrong time to bring About Drought
to an end. He says: “It’s so important to have About Drought following on from
the original research projects; it demonstrated what is possible, the better
knowledge and insight we can get from the information that decisions will be
based on in the future. The team really helped to educate the industry rather
than just educating other academics.
“We need to
look at the tools we can use to take it even further forward now that the
industry is starting to buy into it more.
Drought has informed the water industry, now we need some sort of mechanism to
identify the most useful outputs from strategic to operational products. We
must not let those fall through a crack now that About Drought has finished.
Drought is to be applauded for what it has done but it needs more time and
resources if it is to maximise the outcome for UK plc of all this research.”
As part of the Historic Droughts project, researchers at Cranfield University developed an inventory of qualitative drought data related to UK agriculture based on an extensive review from two weekly farming magazines in the UK, Farmer’s Weekly and Farmers Guardian for the period 1975-2018. The resultant inventory contains over 2500 records with information on the start and end dates of the event and their location to characterise the temporal and spatial extents of the cited event, together with the text describing the driver, impact or response in relation to that event. The inventory is available to download as a csv file from the UK Data Service.
This dataset is also currently being translated in to a drought impacts explorer, which allows the user to view these records spatially and to search and save according to various criteria. If you would like to be involved in beta testing of the explorer please contact email@example.com. An early draft of the explorer is available online.