Flood Risk for Extreme Events (FREE)
The FREE Programme
is a NERC directed mode programme to support research into flood prediction minutes to weeks and seasons to decades ahead.
The broad programme objectives embody consideration of the meteorological, hydrological and coastal oceanographic processes involved. Such processes include floods arising either through the occurrence of extreme rainfall and subsequent flows underground, overland or in river channels to the sea, or within estuaries and sea areas generated from storm surges around our coast. These components were highlighted by major flood events during the summer of 2007 in Tewkesbury and Gloucester, and the 9th November 2007 North Sea storm surge which so nearly spelt disaster for east coast communities.
Climate change will probably bring more frequent and intense storms to the UK, in turn bringing more floods. At present, flood damage costs the UK about £1bn each year. So it's essential we improve our ability to forecast, quantify and manage flood risks, and mitigate the effects of climate variability and change, if we're to maintain a sustainable economy. Sound environmental science must underpin our efforts.
FREE brings researchers in the hydrological, meteorological, terrestrial and coastal oceanography communities together in an integrated research programme for the first time.
FREE Mission Statement:
To reduce the flood risk in the UK from extreme events
The FREE programme will research what causes and propagates floods, so helping to forecast and quantify flood risk, and inform our society about the likely effects of climate change.
The FREE programme started in 2005 and will end in 2010.
There have been three rounds of awards, through which 13 projects have been funded.
Funding Round 1:
- Changing coastlines: data assimilation for morphodynamic prediction and predictability - Dr Sarah Dance, University of Reading.
- Coastal Flooding by Extreme Events (CoFEE) - Prof J Williams, University of Plymouth.
- Ensemble Prediction of Inundation Risk and Uncertainty arising from Scour (EPIRUS) - Dr Q Zou, University of Plymouth.
- Exploitation of new data sources, data assimilation and ensemble techniques for storm and flood forecasting - Prof AJ Illingworth, University of Reading.
- FRACAS: a next generation national Flood Risk Assessment under climate ChAnge Scenarios - Mr N Reynard, NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
- Identification of changing precipitation extremes and attribution to atmospheric, oceanic and climatic changes - Dr TJ Osborn, University of East Anglia.
- Local flood forecasting capability for fluvial and estuarine floods: Use of GridStix for constraining uncertainty in predictive models - Prof Keith Beven, Lancaster University.
- Modelling groundwater flood risk in the Chalk aquifer from future extreme rainfall events - Prof H Wheater, Imperial College London.
- Quantifying Flood Risk of Extreme Events using Density Forecasts Based on a New Digital Archive and Weather Ensemble Predictions- Dr PE McSharry, University of Oxford.
- Uncertainty Assessments of Flood Inundation Impacts: Using spatial climate change scenarios to drive ensembles of distributed models for extremes - Prof GR McGregor, King's College London.
- Funding Round 2:
- Funding Round 3:
A further objective of the FREE programme is to collect data from extreme events occurring during the programme. Additional projects include :
Availability of Data
Due to the multi-disciplinary nature of the projects within FREE, no one NERC data centre is an appropriate archive for all data. Data management for FREE will be coordinated by the BADC and data and metadata will be stored at the data centre most appropriate for the data type: atmospheric data at BADC, marine data at BODC and hydrological data at CEH. Some data may be more appropriately archived at the NEODC (NERC Earth Observation Data Centre), however this will be administered through the BADC. Links to all data locations will be added to the FREE project page as they become available.
Regardless of the physical location of the data, a copy of the metadata will be lodged in the BADC catalogue and will be browsable through a common portal at BADC which will also link to the actual data location.
Access to the data generated by each project at BADC will be restricted to the FREE participants during a restricted access period ending two years after the
end date of the programme. Data will be made publicly accessible after that date.
Access to data and software
Data and software supplied to the BADC by the various projects are stored
in the BADC
FREE archive, from where they can be viewed and downloaded by authorised users.
Whilst data remain restricted, i.e. until two years after the end date of the programme,
authorised users are FREE participants only.
If you are a FREE participant and wish to access
restricted FREE data, please
- register as a BADC user if you are
already a registered BADC user, skip this step; if you have forgotten your BADC user
ID and/or password, please contact the BADC helpdesk at
for access to the FREE archive you will be asked to abide
by the FREE Data Protocol clauses.
In general, model data should be formatted in CF compliant NetCDF files, although there will be exceptions (particularly PP and HDF will also be accepted). Documentation on formats and conventions is available from the BADC, which also provides links to downloadable free software packages to support NetCDF access.
Detailed metadata is normally incorporated fully into the header section of data files, although can be submitted separately if this is not practical. With the aim of providing a consistent way of describing atmospheric data sets, the BADC promotes the use of the NetCDF Climate and Forecast (CF) Metadata Convention. This is a standard dealing mainly with vocabulary rules for parameter names and units. Although this standard was developed with the NetCDF format in mind, it can be applied to any set of geophysical data, and probably extended to cover a much broader range of disciplines as well. All metadata associated with FREE data, submitted to any data centre, will be also lodged at the BADC. The BADC requests that all metadata (especially that contained in file headers) be as close to CF compliance as practicable.
In addition to the standard metadata, investigators are encouraged to archive all relevant information electronically, including references, photographs, reports, etc.
Instructions for data providers
FREE participants wishing to submit data should read the submission instructions.
If you have publications arising from FREE research please send details [title, author(s), reference] to the
BADC help desk for inclusion in the archive.
Links and References
A list of relevant publications is available.
Who to contact