The Challenge: Flooding arises from six main drivers: (1) fluvial - enhanced river flow; (2) pluvial - surface runoff with an urban drainage element; (3) coastal - storm tides and waves; (4) tsunamis; (5) dam failures, and; (6) groundwater. Today, flooding from these six sources affects more than 300 milllion people each year globally and causes annual financial losses exceeding £50 billion. In the UK, flooding is the principal environmental hazard identified in the National Risk Register such that flooding is ranked as the top priority risk after a pandemic. 

And yet flooding will become even more challenging to manage. Sea level rise and changes in storms and rainfall due to climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of flooding.  At the same time more people, property and infrastructure are located in flood prone areas than ever before, and there has been a steady decline in the extent of habitats that act as a nature buffer to flooding at exactly the point that our flood defenses are getting older. 

Research is needed to better understand the drivers of flooding and potential management responses – across all these areas. Moreover, there are major skills shortages in the flood sector. The Centre for Doctoral Training for Resilient Flood Futures (FLOOD-CDT), funded by Natural Environment Research Council and the organisations involved, is a response to this ‘perfect storm’. 

The six main types of flooding.

The Vision of FLOOD-CDT: The vision of FLOOD-CDT is to train the next generation of research practitioners, who will have both:

  1. The multidisciplinary skills and knowledge required to address key sector needs and research questions across all drivers of flooding, and; 
  2. The ability to bridge gaps that currently exist between the evidence base and flood risk management approaches, policy, regulation and community engagement. 


Our themes

FLOOD-CDT focuses around six research and training themes as follows:


Theme 1 Flood interactions: developing holistic understanding of flooding across all flood drivers and appreciation of the compound effects of different drivers interacting, multi-hazards (flood clustering with other hazards) and wider impacts (e.g., environmental, heritage, health, financial stability). 


Theme 2 Changing world: understanding how climate change, non-stationarity, uncertainty, dynamic geomorphology, population change, land use, politics, and public perception, affect flood risk. 


Theme 3 State-of-the-art monitoring: making use of novel in-situ and remote sensing techniques (e.g., drones, SWOT mission, fibre optics, Long Range Wide Area networks) for mapping flood dynamics and damage, validating hazard forecasting services and monitoring the condition and performance of flood defences to enhance the National Network of Regional Monitoring Programmes. 


Theme 4 Innovative modelling and data analysis: enhancing coding and predictive capability (e.g., forecasting), use of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, innovating in computational modelling in physical and social sciences, big data analysis and citizen science.


RT5 Natural, adaptative and cultural management: implementation of nature-based solutions and adaptive approaches for managing flooding in a low carbon economy, in conjunction with environmental and biodiversity enhancement, spatial planning, and financing of flood adaptation. 


Theme 6 Community engagement, policy and regulation: innovation in co-developing effective understanding, communication and engagement about flood risk and impacts to improve flood preparedness, response and recovery amongst relevant publics, and defining effective policy and regulation across government, insurance, finance and other sectors.

Our research and training programme: The CDT will provide at least 56 fully funded PhD studentships over 4 cohorts, with first entry of 16 doctoral researchers staring in October 2024. Each of the researchers will undertake a multidisciplinary project, co-supervised with our external partners - investigating real-life problems across at least two of our Research and Training Themes. In parallel each doctoral researcher will receive extensive, multidisciplinary cohort-based training, across all six Research and Training Themes – see [link to Training Programme page] here for more details.