Faster, more accurate flood warnings through EU research

A series of multi-million pound EU-funded projects involving scientists from the University of Sheffield have developed new, improved forecasting and alert systems for flooding.


Flooding has become a serious concern for communities throughout Europe in light of climate change and with seemingly turbulent weather across the continent.

Through collaborative project Imprints, scientists at Sheffield have developed an early warning system to cut responses to flash floods down to two hours, giving people more time to get out of harm’s way. Another project, WeSenseIt,uses human observation to further improve the speed of warnings and has been supported by over €5 million. People contribute by taking measurements using apps being developed by the project, and sending information and images by mobile phone. The new technologies and approaches are being tested in Italy, the Netherlands and the UK.

Researchers from Sheffield and the University of Exeter are working on the UrbanFlood project which has developed sensors to monitor flood embankments and provide an early warning of their risk of failing. The underground sensors monitor the state of embankments and any changes to water levels and other factors such as temperature, moisture and earth movements, triggering an alert if there is a problem. The software calculates how fast the site will be flooded if the dam fails, and even suggests the best ways to move citizens to safer areas.

These EU-funded, worldwide projects are leading the development of systems that will give people vital advanced warning of flooding in both rural and urban areas, minimising damage to property, safeguarding businesses and saving lives.

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