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Modelling Climate Change Impact


Climate change and its effects on our riverine, estuarine and coastal communities is a major global challenge.

We are living in an era of extreme weather phenomena with a significant proportion of the global population at risk of flooding. Countries worldwide are faced with the severe consequences of climate change: sea level rise, extreme river discharges, more frequent storm events, and more wave and river-flow impacts on their coasts and riparian margins.

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.

New approaches are needed to improve how climate change is represented in experimental models of rivers, estuaries and coasts if we are to plan for environmental change.


Lead researchers

dan-parsons stuart-mclelland

Project funded by


Project partners


The University of Hull is one of 24 partners in the HYDRALAB network, 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. HYDRALAB brings together European researchers and stakeholders to improve experimental research focusing on adaptation to climate change.

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.

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.

The Impact

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.

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.

The new knowledge gathered from this experimental hydraulic and environmental research is needed to design sound climate change adaptation solutions in order to be prepared for the future.

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