The impact of floodplain degradation on flooding in the UK

Entwistle, NS ORCID: and Heritage, G 2017, The impact of floodplain degradation on flooding in the UK , in: 37th IAHR World Congress, 13th-18th August 2017, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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A review of floodplain functioning in the north of England following the winter storms of 2015 was conducted using high resolution aerial imagery of the events captured using drone and helicopter survey during and immediately after the flooding. This revealed that for the most part 100% of the floodplain area was inundated. Sediment left across floodplains from the 2015 flood events areas suggest high floodplain velocities (> 1.5 m/s). GIS analysis of land use mapping for valley bottom areas across England reveal part of the cause for these unnaturally high velocities is the near complete loss of natural rough floodplain surfaces, having been replaced by a hydraulically smoother managed arable/grassland mix. The review has revealed extensive and severe degradation of floodplain systems in England and it is highly likely that similar results would be found for floodplains across the rest of the UK, both upland and lowland areas are equally impacted and the result is an almost complete loss of natural floodplain functioning. River restoration remains concentrated on in-channel activity, however, the push for natural flood management offers an opportunity to restore our floodplains with an associated improvement in ecological value and flood driven functionality. The research presented here suggests that it is not lack of floodplain storage space in the upper catchment, rather the decreased efficiency of floodplain areas to retard flow which is leading to increased downstream flood risk. Floodplain reconnection, vegetative naturalization and selective grazing reduction are required to begin to restore upstream floodplain flood function helping alleviate flooding pressure downstream.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences > Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: E-proceedings of the 37th IAHR World Congress August 13 – 18, 2017, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Publisher: International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research
Funders: Coop Insurance
Depositing User: NS Entwistle
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2017 09:19
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 15:44

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