Major grant for modelling climate change impact

Researchers at the University of Hull are developing innovative techniques and protocols to improve how climate change is represented in experimental models of rivers, estuaries and coasts as part of the HYDRALAB+ project.

The University of Hull is one of 24 partners awarded a major European Union research grant of almost €10 million to use experimental models to improve predictions of how our rivers, estuaries and coasts will be affected by environmental change.

We are leading one of three major areas of the HYDRALAB+ project which aims to inform future Government policy and flood management techniques for tackling threats such as floods and storms.

Our researchers' pioneering work includes planting tiny upland forests of cress and creating engineered log jams out of matchsticks, and then using the University's rainfall simulator to test natural flood prevention techniques.

By unleashing different magnitudes, intensities and frequencies of rain onto a mini-river catchment made from ten tonnes of sand, they can determine how techniques such as replanting forests could slow water flows.

Researchers will also consider whether engineered log jams and other natural flood prevention techniques could be effective in slowing the flow in headwater streams and reducing floods downstream.

The University of Hull is one of 24 partners in the HYDRALAB network, an established community of hydraulic engineering expertise and research facilities across Europe.


Researchers Professor Dan Parsons and Dr Stuart McLelland are leading the University of Hull's work on the HYDRALAB+ project.

Professor Parsons, Director of the Energy and Environment Institute, said: "The great thing about this is that we can speed up time.

 "These kind of experiments are crucial as we can't wait 30 years to grow a forest to see how it works and the effects it has. But here, in the lab, we can do just that."

Dr Stuart McLelland, Director of the Total Environment Simulator, added: "This research will help us to understand and inform the longer-term efficiency and efficacy of these types of flood management interventions and use the results to help inform Government policy on future flood defences.

"We also want to help inform the investments and decisions made by those who are rolling out this type of natural flood management."


Part of the funding enables the University of Hull to provide access to the Total Environment Simulator, enabling groups of researchers from across Europe to undertake climate change research projects in these experimental facilities.

This is a unique opportunity to develop novel research projects using this unique physical modelling infrastructure as well as providing training for new researchers from other European countries.

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