In Britain one of the biggest natural hazards that we face is that of floods destroying homes and crops. Many areas are at constant high risk of flooding, especially those in vales and valleys across the UK. However, UK science still has a great deal to learn about how our rivers actually work, according to award-winning hydrologist.
Hannah Cloke, Professor of Hydrology at the University of Reading, made this comment after being awarded the British Hydrology Society’s President’s Prize on Tuesday 1st October 2019. She was also awarded an OBE in June 2019 in recognition of her work on flood forecasting.
Hydrology is the branch of science that mostly concerns itself with the properties of the earth’s water. Cloke looks at the water in Britain and its movement in relation to the land surrounding it.
This prize is awarded by the Society every two years for leading scientific work on hydrology in Britain, and for a formative paper, report or work which has advanced hydrology significantly.
During the week when Professor Cloke picked up her award, more than 200 flood warnings and alerts were issued across the England, and the Isle of Man witnessed severe flooding.
Professor Cloke said: “I am extremely honoured to receive the British Hydrological Society’s President’s Prize. It is wonderful to be asked to talk at the society about our NERC-funded research into improving flood forecasting and preparedness.
“British hydrologists are among the best in the world. They need to be, given that flood risk is one of the biggest natural hazards facing people in the UK.
“Yet with climate change increasing the risk of floods in Britain, there is still much to learn about how water interacts with the landscape. There are fundamental aspects of how rivers work that we still don’t understand.
“For people to better prepare their homes and families against expensive and damaging floods, we will need to see some serious investment in both our infrastructure and the science of hydrology.”
Professor Cloke has also been advising the UK government as well as international aid agencies on flood forecasting. As a result, in 2019 her advice helped to direct disaster relief to the flood-ravaged communities in Mozambique, and in the UK she advised emergency services to allow people in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, to return to their homes after the Toddbrook Dam was damaged by floodwater.