DECEMBER STORMS CAUSE WIDESPREAD FLOOD DAMAGE
UK and Irish cities experienced record levels of rainfall in December 2015, bringing the question of critical infrastructure protection and city resilience to the top of the agenda for local and national governments across the region. At least three deaths1 and hundreds of evacuations throughout the UK and Ireland have been attributed to December storms Desmond, Eva and Frank. Approximately 16,000 properties were flooded in the UK in December while 20,000 properties were protected by flood defences.
Winter floods hit Greater Manchester
Greater Manchester, a core city and partner of the RESIN project, was particularly affected by Storm Eva, with 68.2mm of rain falling between 25 and 27 December. The recovery period is ongoing and so final figures are not yet known. However, approximately 2500 homes and 600 businesses were flooded and a further 5000 homes in the GM area were left without power over the post-Christmas weekend. A number of roads were impassable due to standing water and two footbridges were washed away, one carrying a low pressure gas main, which subsequently exploded, leaving a number of homes without gas. Damage to infrastructure is likely to be in excess of £10 million.
University of Manchester and Greater Manchester work together
Greater Manchester as part of its role in the RESIN project is working intensively with its RESIN partners, and particularly research partner the University of Manchester, to carry out a comprehensive city assessment. Part of this assessment is an analysis of the area’s current status as regards climate change adaptation and resilience and the identification of areas in need of focussed strategic development as well as areas of potential and opportunity.
The benefits of co-creation
Research into critical infrastructure vulnerability and resilience against extreme weather events depends on current and accurate data. The RESIN partnership between cities and scientists is an ideal opportunity for effective and timely research into threats to critical infrastructure and for producing solutions in a practical and applicable form that cities have themselves had a hand in creating.
Data from extreme weather events
RESIN researchers are starting to study extreme weather events and their implications for urban critical infrastructure planning and climate change adaptation planning. As understanding increases, Greater Manchester, in turn, benefits from scientifically-informed recommendations and tools specifically related to the storms that have recently affected so many citizens. This will start to ensure relevant data, analysis and recommendations are available when policymakers are calling for it.
RESIN Weather and Climate Hazards report
In November 2015, the University of Manchester, as part of the project’s series of State of the Art scientific reviews, produced an analysis of the hazards facing European cities arising from climate change. Primary causes were identified as sea level rise, flooding, heat-waves and drought. The study looks at how an area’s socio-economic and infrastructural characteristics can turn a climate event into a climate hazard. Crucially, this sheds light on which elements of climate-change related hazards can be controllable, allowing cities to adapt to a changing climate. The full text of the report is available for download on the RESIN website.
Greater Manchester looking ahead with RESIN
Greater Manchester’s participation in the RESIN project is a unique opportunity for the city to participate in cutting-edge climate science, research into critical infrastructure protection, adaptation development while reaping immediate benefits for its citizens.
1 Irish Times, 8 December 2015
2 UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Elizabeth Truss), 5 Jan 2016