The flood estimation handbook and UK practice:past, present and future

Stewart, E. J. ORCID:; Kjeldsen, T. R.; Jones, D. A.; Morris, D. G.. 2008 The flood estimation handbook and UK practice:past, present and future. In: Samuels, P.; Huntington, S.; Allsop, W.; Harrop, J., (eds.) Flood Risk Management: Research and Practice. CRC Press, 179.

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The Flood Estimation Handbook (FEH) was published in 1999 and has effectively become the national standard for flood frequency estimation in the UK. The FEH, which encompasses a suite of methods for statistical frequency analysis of rainfall and floods, was innovative both in its use of digital catchment information and in the way that data from a number of sites can be pooled together to improve the quality of estimates at gauged and ungauged sites. The major benefits of the FEH have been seen in improved risk management and policy implementation, and have had a considerable impact on the UK economy. This paper considers each of the three key components of the FEH, the rainfall frequency model, the statistical approach to flood frequency estimation and the rainfall-runoff method, and describes how recent and ongoing research is leading to methodological improvements. In the case of rainfall frequency, research related to reservoir safety assessment funded by Defra is currently revising the FEH depth-duration-frequency model for return periods of 100 to over 10,000 years. An Environment Agency-funded project to update the FEH statistical flood frequency procedures has built on theoretical developments together with the availability of flood peak data from HiFlows-UK, resulting in substantial improvements to the predictive capability of the method. Finally, the rainfall-runoff method, which was originally developed as part of the 1975 Flood Studies Report, has been replaced by the ReFH model for design hydrograph analysis. Other related aspects of the FEH are also being explored, for example the development of new flood risk maps based on the revised methods together with high resolution digital terrain models. Current research is focusing on comparisons with the results of so-called next generation methods based on a continuous simulation approach. An important aspect of the development of FEH methods is putting the theory into practice and the paper highlights how this is being managed through the development of new FEH software products, as well as allowing the algorithms to be implemented within other widely used packages. While some key improvements have been made to the existing methods, a number of challenges remain, particularly to improve flood estimation in urban areas and in permeable catchments. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly urgent to consider the likely impacts of climate change on flood and rainfall frequency in the UK and to develop new methods for frequency estimation in a non-stationary environment.

Item Type: Publication - Book Section
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Water > WA01 Water extremes > WA01.1 New methodologies to quantify floods, flows and droughts
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Boorman (to September 2014)
ISBN: 9780415485074
Additional Keywords: Flood Estimation Handbook, frequency estimation, floods
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
Date made live: 07 Sep 2011 16:07 +0 (UTC)

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