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.
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.
A further objective of the FREE programme is to collect data from extreme events occurring during the programme. An Arrangement known as FLood Action Team (FLoAT), led by Dr Stuart Lane, Durham University, is also in place to assemble specific data should major extreme events occur during the programme as happened during 2007 (Tewkesbury - acquisition of aerial images collected during the Tewkesbury flooding summer 2007).
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.
A list of relevant publications is available.