CCN News

[Jan 27] Managing our changing flood and coastal risk- Emerging good practices
added on 07 12 2009 by Clare Black
Sea level rise and land tilt is increasing the threats on our coast and tidally influenced communities, increasing precipitation, Read more..

Sea level rise and land tilt is increasing the threats on our coast and tidally influenced communities, increasing precipitation, storminess and extreme river flows will increase our chance and frequency of extreme flood levels and flows. All these are happening against the background of an increasing population and the development of housing and industry t support this. Lest we forget, we are an Island, so there is nowhere to run.

Practitioners in the field of flood and coastal management are presently doing a lot of head scratching to address the challenges this brings to deliver sustainable communities into the future, where people, the economy and the environment all thrive.

This conference has been put together to share some of the emerging good practices both at the strategic scale and at the sharp end of delivery that are already tackling the challenges head on. It will also provide an opportunity to take stock of where we are and assess how we need to progress to achieve our goal of using flood and coastal management as a vehicle to mitigate and adapt to sustainable futures given the expected pressures

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First CCN Workshop...
added on 04 12 2009 by Clare Black
We have had the first CCN workshop!  In this case for the Flood Risk focus area (one for Water Quality is coming up in Lancaster on Dec 8th).  It Read more..

We have had the first CCN workshop!  In this case for the Flood Risk focus area (one for Water Quality is coming up in Lancaster on Dec 8th).  It was held at Sheffield Cathedral and brought together some of the CCN and FRMRC2 team with practitioners from the Environment Agency, several Consultants, local authority staff, and some graduate students.  The aim was to make the first steps towards a Guidance document for good practice in incorporating uncertainty into flood risk mapping. The workshop was illustrated with some uncertain flood risk maps for the River Dearne north of Mexborough prepared within the FRMRC2 project.

It proved to be an interesting day, with lots of discussion about the sources of uncertainty, how we might characterise them, how best to communicate assumptions and uncertainties, how they might be interpreted in different contexts, and how different products might be needed for different purposes (the discussions also overlapped into uncertainty in predicting inundation depths for real-time forecasting and incident management).

There is clearly a lot of wariness about uncertainty estimation of flood outlines, particularly in respect of how it might affect the planning process. Under PPS 25, the boundaries of the flood risk zones are crisp lines. Making those lines uncertain would raise many issues, and some people at the workshop thought that this might be counter productive. Others felt it might be advantageous, in that we know the uncertainties are there and there would be real advantages of openness and transparency (and in being less likely to be wrong) in trying to estimate the uncertainties. This will be become more and more important as mapping moves down towards individual property levels.

One strong recommendation from the discussions was to make sure we talk about degrees of confidence in predictions rather than uncertainty or likelihood. Another issue was starting from the needs of different users but with the question of how far we should assume that practitioners and professional partners will understand uncertainty concepts given the necessary future training, even if this does mean assessing probabilities of probabilities, rather than “dumbing down” the concepts. The “small print” of any guidance will be important in ensuring that the concepts involved are properly understood.

So a really interesting day – though we only really touched on uncertainty in estimating flood hazard rather than the consequences or vulnerability components of flood risk.  The next steps will be to produce a full report on the workshop discussions – which will be posted on both CCN and FRMRC2 sites – and then a draft guidance document to form the basis for further discussion and consultations over the next year.

The total effort is estimated at $400,000, said examine right over here now beth a

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Virtual Catchments and CCN
added on 30 11 2009 by Clare Black
It is the end of a long intense week at the NERC Virtual Observatory Sandpit.  The aim of a sandpit is to bring together a collection of researchers Read more..

It is the end of a long intense week at the NERC Virtual Observatory Sandpit.  The aim of a sandpit is to bring together a collection of researchers (including a number of others with links to CCN: Phil Haygarth, Sim Reaney, Paul Quinn) to produce a draft consortium proposal that is then assessed by a committee as to whether it should go to a full proposal.  The committee, in this case, included a number of potential users of the virtual observatory, for example, Defra, the EA, and Water Industry.  The first issue at the sandpit was, of course, to try and clarify what might be meant by the concept of a virtual observatory (VO).  There was a common vision of the long term concept: a readily accessible representation of the landscape processes in the UK that could be used to inform a wide variety of users (from farmers to schools to the water industry to national policy) making use of the latest techniques in computer science, particularly cloud computing concepts.  The objectives of the VO would include making data readily available to different communities; allowing what-if scenario evaluations in management, planning and policy; hypothesis testing of model process representations; and building up different portals and “communities of practice” for different types of application.

Initially the project proposal will be only for a proof of concept over a period of two years.  This will not be long enough for all the issues of making data readily available to be sorted out, nor for all the issues of defining realistic process representations at the local scales needed to be resolved. Thus, the capability of the system will be developed within a synthetic, virtual, catchment (although it might well be based on the characteristics of an existing research catchment or one of the new Defra Demonstration Test Catchments).

At the end of the sandpit, the project team were given the go-ahead to develop a full proposal which should lead to a project to start next year.  The long term potential of the VO project to provide tools for evaluating the impacts of catchment change will clearly overlap with the aims of CCN and hopefully there may be the possibility of organising some joint workshops in the near future for the overlapping communities of practice.

The sandpit was my second one this year (the first led to the EQUIP climate impacts project). In each case the process was facilitated in a way that produced lots of post-it notes but not much clarity about what research problems needed to be addressed to make real progress -or perhaps more correctly the problems may have been identified on the post-its but there was no real opportunity to discuss them in depth.   Perhaps it was the collection of people involved in each case, perhaps it was the nature of the facilitation programme, perhaps it was the constraints of the particular subject areas but in both sandpits the process led to a collaborative proposal within the “normal paradigm” of the science. This was a little frustrating, particularly in the case of the VO project (I realised during the week that I published my first virtual hillslope paper in 1977, and a full virtual catchment study of the 500 km2 Little Washita catchment in 2002, and have thought a lot about some of the issues in implementing the “models of everywhere” that the VO will require).  It certainly left the feeling that the process could have been organised better as a science workshop to focus on some of those difficult research issues…though whether this would have led to a better proposal for the initial phase of the VO is probably debateable.

Don’t watch it here shout at us, we didn’t make the word up

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[Jan 14] Bridging Troubled Waters: Hydrology and Spatial Planning
added on 23 11 2009 by Clare Black
In recent years attention to issues concerning water and planning has been rising. Faced with a climate of increasing extremes Read more..

In recent years attention to issues concerning water and planning has been rising. Faced with a climate of increasing extremes with a greater need to manage water resources sustainably, to maintain and improve water quality, set against the projected increase of 252,000 new households a year in England (DCLG, 2009) – reveals the significant challenge that the spatial planning system faces when considering water management.

The sheer complexity of the issues around water management and the increasing technical knowledge required means partnership working is essential to achieve a sustainable, integrated approach. Yet there can be a considerable misunderstanding between disciplines, often concerning the organisational and cultural context in which the various parties operate, which hinders progress. How can planners embed critical hydrological issues in regional and local plans, in decisions on individual planning applications and seek opportunities through redevelopment and regeneration initiatives to achieve sustainable water management? How can hydrologists better understand the institutional context to deliver workable, comprehensible advice and solutions that meet multiple social, environmental and economic objectives? How can researchers better inform integrated policy and implementation?

This one day meeting will bring together a variety of stakeholders to explore the linkages and gain a deeper understanding of integrating water issues in spatial planning. The primary focus of the meeting is on the commonly experienced challenges of interdisciplinary working; how to promote communication, collaboration and knowledge transfer to yield workable solutions to the problems we face. It is hoped new relationships and further interdisciplinary research and practice opportunities will emerge from this agenda.

This BHS meeting aims to promote: (1) interdisciplinary communication and collaborations and (2) knowledge transfer between scientists, water managers and planners.

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[Apr 26] Integrated River Basin Management Conference - Action Programmes and Adaptation to Climate Change-
added on 19 11 2009 by Clare Black
The conference will review technical challenges faced by Member States, stakeholder organisations and scientists, while developing Read more..

The conference will review technical challenges faced by
Member States, stakeholder organisations and scientists,
while developing the first River Basin Management Plan
under the Water Framework Directive (WFD). It will focus
on aspects of integration, looking at the way cross-sectoral
and multidisciplinary co-operation has developed, and how
emerging issues such as adaptation to climate changes
will be considered in the future.
www.WFDLille2010.org

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