Skip to navigationSkip to content
Close

Flooding is difficult to predict and prepare for. A hydrologist in the UK wants the government to be more aware of the risks of building homes and businesses in floodplains—or at least improve design standards. There have been devastating floods in the north of England this week.

Read more on Quartz

Featured contributions

  • Flooding is a tragic reality for many parts of the UK today – and flooding will also become more common and more extreme with climate change. The Met Office believes that intense rainfall associated with flash flooding could become almost 5 x more frequent by the end of the century.

    In the UK, greater

    Flooding is a tragic reality for many parts of the UK today – and flooding will also become more common and more extreme with climate change. The Met Office believes that intense rainfall associated with flash flooding could become almost 5 x more frequent by the end of the century.

    In the UK, greater investment needs to be made in developing more innovative water management systems and new, more radical, forms of flood defence. There are some fascinating infrastructure innovations in this area, particularly from Asia, which is home to some of the world’s wettest countries.

    In Tokyo, a massive “underground cathedral” is part of the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel – a system of dams, levees and tunnels defending Tokyo. In extreme flood cases, the system takes in water from the 5 rivers crossing Tokyo, holds it temporarily, and then discharges it into the largest river when it’s safe to do so. The pumps in this system can push 200 tons of water per second (which equates to emptying a 25m swimming pool in 2-3 seconds)

    Another example is the work led by Professor Kongjian Yu, developing the concept of “sponge cities” – a city designed (or retrofitted) to passively absorb, clean and use flood water. There are now hundreds of sites around the globe that use sponge city concepts, including permeable pavements, wetlands, and rain gardens all with the aim of absorbing excessive rainfall through soil infiltration and/or retaining it in underground tunnels and storage tanks until flooding recedes or it can be safely channelled.

    It will be interesting to see whether the UK looks to greenlighting more ambitious approaches to flood management over time. Projects of this scale will of course come with a significant price tag.