Lancaster University

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02/22/2002 16:02:45

Lancaster University flood experts have been awarded more than £1m from the Natural Environment and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Councils and Sun Microsystems to improve the ways that the risk of flooding can be predicted more accurately, which could save the country millions of pounds in insurance pay outs and repairing damaged property.

Although parts of the UK have recently seen extreme floods that damage houses and threaten lives, methods of predicting floods extreme events or flood forecasting are still subject to significant uncertainty. Lancaster environmental scientists and statisticians will work together to try to reduce that uncertainty.

Professor Keith Beven, who heads the Hydrology and Environmental Modelling Group, successfully bid for one of only six National Environment Research Council Long Term Funding Awards and will develop general methods for constraining the uncertainty associated with environmental predictions. Part of the total funding is for a powerful new parallel computing system, supported by the Sun, to enable the calculations to be made more quickly.

Professor Keith Beven explained: "The traditional methods that we have for evaluating environmental risk do not take sufficient account of the limitations of current models in assessing predictions. The complexity of environmental systems is such that these limitations should be taken into consideration in estimating the uncertainty of the predictions".

"We hope to develop a methodology that will take account of all these different factors and provide much more realistic estimates of the real risk of flooding in an area."