Analysis of historic drought and water scarcity in the UK: a systems-based study of drivers, impacts and their interactions

Lead Research Organisation: NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Department Name: Rees

Abstract

Drought and water scarcity (D&WS) are significant threats to livelihoods and wellbeing in many countries, including the United Kingdom (UK). Parts of the UK are already water-stressed and are facing a wide range of pressures, including an expanding population and intensifying exploitation of increasingly limited water resources. In addition, many regions may become significantly drier in future due to environmental changes, all of which implies major challenges to water resource management. However, D&WS are not simply natural hazards. There are also a range of socio-economic and regulatory factors that may influence the course of droughts, such as water consumption practices and abstraction licensing regimes. Consequently, if drought and water scarcity are to be better managed, there is a need for a more detailed understanding of the links between hydrometeorological and social systems during droughts.
Based on an analysis of information from a wide range of sectors (hydrometeorological, environmental, agricultural, regulatory, social and cultural), the project will characterise and quantify the history of drought and water scarcity (D&WS) since the late 19th century and will produce the first systematic account (UK Drought Inventory) of droughts in the UK. The Inventory forms the basis of a novel joint hydro-meteorological and socio-economic analysis of the drivers of drought and their impacts, with a focus on a search for characteristic systems interactions. The enhanced systems-based understanding is expected to improve decision-making for future drought management and planning, including more informed and thus effective public discourse related to D&WS.
Currently there are no conceptual models of D&WS that describe interactions between hydrometerological and socio-economic drivers and environmental and societal impacts of droughts. The first task will therefore develop a new systems-based conceptualisation of D&WS. This will be used to investigate drought drivers, impacts and their interdependencies. The second task will produce the knowledge base for use within the project and the wider NERC UK Drought and Water Scarcity Programme. It involves the compilation of datasets and metadata, including data and information for selected case study episodes of D&WS. Information on the social and cultural aspects of D&WS will be compiled from oral histories and collation of reports in the historic and recent print and broadcast media, and the first analysis of social media from the 2010-12 drought will be carried out. The third task will develop the Drought Inventory by a novel combination of drought timelines, sector-specific narrative chronologies highlighting key events, and the production of new cross-sectoral drought indicators. To understand the interactions between social and environmental systems during D&WS episodes, the fourth task will: identify significant systems interactions across a range of droughts; identify key triggers and thresholds for droughts; and, describe the reasons behind any changes in systems interactions in droughts over the historic record. The final and fifth task examines how socio-economic context and water resource management practices contributed to resilience to episodes of D&WS in the historic record and considers the implications for changes in planning for the management of future droughts. It also provides an assessment of what are the most effective forms of dialogue and information exchange between the public and those responsible for water resource management that may contribute to beneficial outcomes during future episodes of D&WS.
The key research outcomes will be: a systems-based understanding of D&WS in the context of multiple environmental and societal drivers; an accessible, integrated cross-sector UK Drought Inventory; improved advice and methods to support decision making related to drought management; and, new strategies to re-frame public discourse related to D&WS.

Planned Impact

Due to the nature of the project, there will be multiple beneficiaries from the findings of the project. The following identifies who will benefit from the research and how they will benefit from different aspects of the proposed research.
The principal beneficiaries of the project will be: 1.) policy makers and environmental regulators in the UK; 2.) decision makers and water resource managers in water utilities; 3.) decision makers and managers in UK businesses where decisions related to water use and management are business-critical, including the agricultural sector; 4.) NGOs and Third Sector organisations with an interest in water resources issues and environmental management; 5.) the general public; 6.) communications professionals; 7.) academics and researchers with an interest in drought and water scarcity (D&WS); and 8.) the teaching profession, specifically those delivering key stage 3 and above related to environmental science.
The project will develop a systems-based understanding of D&WS. This will provide a framework for policymakers and environmental regulators, and those with responsibility for long-term water resource management to include and take account of broader socio-economic factors in decision making. Benefits will include improved, more integrated regulatory, planning and decision making processes related to D&WS in the UK.
The UK Drought Inventory, a cross-sector evidence base of historic episodes of D&WS produced by the project, will provide a common reference for policy makers and regulators, water supply companies, and UK business to make decisions in the context of D&WS and key reference droughts. This will enable the development of better drought mitigation plans, leading to improved long-term management of water resources and a reduction in the cost of droughts to UK business. Because it is a common evidence base, it will enable more consistent, transparent planning against standard benchmarks across multiple agencies.
The project will produce improved advice and methods to support decision making related to drought management during episodes of D&WS. Regulators, water resources managers, UK industry, particularly the agricultural sector, with responsibilities for strategic and operational decision making during episodes of D&WS will benefit from the advice, guidance and new methods developed to support decision making. Benefits will include more effective and timely management interventions as droughts develop and as they end; interventions based on commonly agreed principles and evidence; and, more certainty in management and co-ordination of response to droughts.
The development of new strategies to re-frame public discourse related to D&WS is a specific goal for the project. Beneficiaries of these new strategies include: policy makers and regulators; water supply companies; the public; and, NGOs and community groups, particularly those who are responsible for providing information for and engaging in dialogue with the public on issues related to water resources. The benefits include a more informed public debate around issues associated with D&WS; greater clarity regarding decision making process during droughts; wider consensus regarding the positive contribution the public can make to best water resource outcomes during episodes of D&WS.
The project will deliver a series of significant new resources for academics and researchers working in the field of drought research, that when combined with outputs from the other UK Drought Programme projects will have a significant international impact and will lead to major advances in research in this field.
The resources proposed to be developed for teachers as part of the follow-on knowledge exchange activities will provide teachers with appropriate, authoritative materials that will make their teaching of issues related to water resources more effective and will contribute to a more informed generation of young people.
 
Description The Historic Droughts project has primarily been working on data gathering for the first two years, as per the project plan. Hence most of the key findings are only now being realised through analytical work, and publications are still in preparation, and datasets still being prepared for wider use.

Some existing key findings:

- A new understanding of the complexities of 'drought termination', i.e. how droughts end (sometimes dramatically), arising from the first systematic account of drought termination for the UK, based on an inventory of 467 drought termination events from historic records.

- New understanding of drought persistence and the likelihood of experiencing long droughts based on statistical analysis of long rainfall and river flow records, following a collaboration with University of Loughborough.

- Through collaboration with the UK Met Office, newly rescued and recovered rainfall datasets for the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, soon to be released as a gridded rainfall dataset through the National Climate Information Centre

- The longest available archive of drought indicators for the UK - a national scale dataset of the Standardized Precipitation Index extending back to the 1860s

- The first very long-term, high resolution gridded dataset of historic Potential Evapotranspiration for the UK extending back to the 1890s (due for release spring 2017). This is based on estimation from temperature, and new work has revealed the most robust ways of estimating PE from temperature in the UK.

- a novel ensemble modelling framework methodology for reconstructing streamflows

More extensive information will be added next year when the data gathering and analysis is complete and key papers and datasets have been published
Exploitation Route The data being delivered will be of interest to a very wide user community.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport
 
Title Historic SPI for Hydrological Groups 
Description Standardised Precipitation Index (SPI) data for Integrated Hydrological Units (IHU) groups (Kral et al. [1]). SPI is a drought index based on the probability of precipitation for a given accumulation period as defined by McKee et al. [2]. SPI is calculated for different accumulation periods: 1, 3, 6, 12, 18, 24 months. Each of these is in turn calculated for each of the twelve calendar months. Note that values in monthly (and for longer accumulation periods also annual) time series of the data therefore are likely to be autocorrelated. The standard period which was used to fit the gamma distribution is 1961-2010. The dataset covers the period from 1862 to 2015. NOTE: the difference between this dataset with the previously published dataset "Standardised Precipitation Index time series for IHU Groups (1961-2012)" [SPI_IHU_groups] (Tanguy et al., 2015 [3]), apart from the temporal extent, is the underlying rainfall data from which SPI was calculated. In the previously published dataset, CEH-GEAR (Keller et al., 2015 [4], Tanguy et al., 2014 [5]) was used, whereas in this new version, Met Office 5km rainfall grids were used (see supporting information for more details). Within Historic Droughts project (grant number: NE/L01016X/1), the Met Office has digitised historic rainfall and temperature data to produce high quality historic rainfall and temperature grids, which motivated the change in the underlying data to calculate SPI. The methodology to calculate SPI is the same in the two datasets. [1] Kral, F., Fry, M., Dixon, H. (2015). Integrated Hydrological Units of the United Kingdom: Groups. NERC-Environmental Information Data Centre doi:10.5285/f1cd5e33-2633-4304-bbc2-b8d34711d902 [2] McKee, T. B., Doesken, N. J., Kleist, J. (1993). The Relationship of Drought Frequency and Duration to Time Scales. Eighth Conference on Applied Climatology, 17-22 January 1993, Anaheim, California. [3] Tanguy, M.; Kral., F.; Fry, M.; Svensson, C.; Hannaford, J. (2015). Standardised Precipitation Index time series for Integrated Hydrological Units Groups (1961-2012). NERC Environmental Information Data Centre. https://doi.org/10.5285/dfd59438-2170-4472-b810-bab33a83d09f [4] Keller, V. D. J., Tanguy, M., Prosdocimi, I., Terry, J. A., Hitt, O., Cole, S. J., Fry, M., Morris, D. G., and Dixon, H.: CEH-GEAR: 1 km resolution daily and monthly areal rainfall estimates for the UK for hydrological use, Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss., 8, 83-112, doi:10.5194/essdd-8-83-2015, 2015. [5] Tanguy, M.; Dixon, H.; Prosdocimi, I.; Morris, D. G.; Keller, V. D. J. (2014). Gridded estimates of daily and monthly areal rainfall for the United Kingdom (1890-2012) [CEH-GEAR]. NERC Environmental Information Data Centre. https://doi.org/10.5285/5dc179dc-f692-49ba-9326-a6893a503f6e 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None yet 
URL https://catalogue.ceh.ac.uk/documents/047d914f-2a65-4e9c-b191-09abf57423db
 
Title Historic SPI for Hydrometric Units 
Description Standardised Precipitation Index (SPI) data for Integrated Hydrological Units (IHU) Hydrometric Areas (Kral et al. [1]). SPI is a drought index based on the probability of precipitation for a given accumulation period as defined by McKee et al. [2]. SPI is calculated for different accumulation periods: 1, 3, 6, 12, 18, 24 months. Each of these is in turn calculated for each of the twelve calendar months. Note that values in monthly (and for longer accumulation periods also annual) time series of the data therefore are likely to be autocorrelated. The standard period which was used to fit the gamma distribution is 1961-2010. The dataset covers the period from 1862 to 2015. NOTE: the difference between this dataset with the previously published dataset "Standardised Precipitation Index time series for IHU hydrometric areas (1961-2012)" [SPI_IHU_HA] (Tanguy et al., 2015 [3]), apart from the temporal extent, is the underlying rainfall data from which SPI was calculated. In the previously published dataset, CEH-GEAR (Keller et al., 2015 [4], Tanguy et al., 2014 [5]) was used, whereas in this new version, Met Office 5km rainfall grids were used (see supporting documentation for more details). Within Historic Droughts project (grant number: NE/L01016X/1), the Met Office has digitised historic rainfall and temperature data to produce high quality historic rainfall and temperature grids, which motivated the change in the underlying data to calculate SPI. The methodology to calculate SPI is the same in the two datasets. [1] Kral, F., Fry, M., Dixon, H. (2015). Integrated Hydrological Units of the United Kingdom: Hydrometric Areas without Coastline. NERC-Environmental Information Data Centre doi:10.5285/3a4e94fc-4c68-47eb-a217-adee2a6b02b3 [2] McKee, T. B., Doesken, N. J., Kleist, J. (1993). The Relationship of Drought Frequency and Duration to Time Scales. Eighth Conference on Applied Climatology, 17-22 January 1993, Anaheim, California. [3] Tanguy, M.; Kral., F.; Fry, M.; Svensson, C.; Hannaford, J. (2015). Standardised Precipitation Index time series for Integrated Hydrological Units Hydrometric Areas (1961-2012). NERC Environmental Information Data Centre. https://doi.org/10.5285/5e1792a0-ae95-4e77-bccd-2fb456112cc1 [4] Keller, V. D. J., Tanguy, M., Prosdocimi, I., Terry, J. A., Hitt, O., Cole, S. J., Fry, M., Morris, D. G., and Dixon, H.: CEH-GEAR: 1 km resolution daily and monthly areal rainfall estimates for the UK for hydrological use, Earth Syst. Sci. Data Discuss., 8, 83-112, doi:10.5194/essdd-8-83-2015, 2015. [5] Tanguy, M.; Dixon, H.; Prosdocimi, I.; Morris, D. G.; Keller, V. D. J. (2014). Gridded estimates of daily and monthly areal rainfall for the United Kingdom (1890-2012) [CEH-GEAR]. NERC Environmental Information Data Centre. https://doi.org/10.5285/5dc179dc-f692-49ba-9326-a6893a503f6e 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None yet - only recently released. The data will be used in the CEH Drought Portal and Historic Droughts Inventory in future. 
URL https://catalogue.ceh.ac.uk/documents/d8655cc9-b275-4e77-9e6c-1b16eee5c7d5
 
Description Stakeholder Advisory Panel for Historic Droughts 
Organisation Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB)
Country Unknown 
Sector Multiple 
PI Contribution We have convened a stakeholder advisory panel for Historic Droughts, and held a stakeholder meeting in March 2015.
Collaborator Contribution Advice on research direction and engagement strategy. Data contributions. Commitment to interviews
Impact Stakeholder advisory meeting, March 2015.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Stakeholder Advisory Panel for Historic Droughts 
Organisation Anglian Water Services
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have convened a stakeholder advisory panel for Historic Droughts, and held a stakeholder meeting in March 2015.
Collaborator Contribution Advice on research direction and engagement strategy. Data contributions. Commitment to interviews
Impact Stakeholder advisory meeting, March 2015.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Stakeholder Advisory Panel for Historic Droughts 
Organisation Government of the UK
Department Environment Agency
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have convened a stakeholder advisory panel for Historic Droughts, and held a stakeholder meeting in March 2015.
Collaborator Contribution Advice on research direction and engagement strategy. Data contributions. Commitment to interviews
Impact Stakeholder advisory meeting, March 2015.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Stakeholder Advisory Panel for Historic Droughts 
Organisation Hydro Logic Ltd
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have convened a stakeholder advisory panel for Historic Droughts, and held a stakeholder meeting in March 2015.
Collaborator Contribution Advice on research direction and engagement strategy. Data contributions. Commitment to interviews
Impact Stakeholder advisory meeting, March 2015.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Stakeholder Advisory Panel for Historic Droughts 
Organisation National Farmers Union NFU
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have convened a stakeholder advisory panel for Historic Droughts, and held a stakeholder meeting in March 2015.
Collaborator Contribution Advice on research direction and engagement strategy. Data contributions. Commitment to interviews
Impact Stakeholder advisory meeting, March 2015.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Stakeholder Advisory Panel for Historic Droughts 
Organisation Natural Resources Wales
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have convened a stakeholder advisory panel for Historic Droughts, and held a stakeholder meeting in March 2015.
Collaborator Contribution Advice on research direction and engagement strategy. Data contributions. Commitment to interviews
Impact Stakeholder advisory meeting, March 2015.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Stakeholder Advisory Panel for Historic Droughts 
Organisation Scottish Environment Protection Agency
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We have convened a stakeholder advisory panel for Historic Droughts, and held a stakeholder meeting in March 2015.
Collaborator Contribution Advice on research direction and engagement strategy. Data contributions. Commitment to interviews
Impact Stakeholder advisory meeting, March 2015.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Stakeholder Advisory Panel for Historic Droughts 
Organisation Thames Water Utilities Limited
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have convened a stakeholder advisory panel for Historic Droughts, and held a stakeholder meeting in March 2015.
Collaborator Contribution Advice on research direction and engagement strategy. Data contributions. Commitment to interviews
Impact Stakeholder advisory meeting, March 2015.
Start Year 2015
 
Description Stakeholder Advisory Panel for Historic Droughts 
Organisation World Wide Fund for Nature
Country Switzerland, Swiss Confederation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We have convened a stakeholder advisory panel for Historic Droughts, and held a stakeholder meeting in March 2015.
Collaborator Contribution Advice on research direction and engagement strategy. Data contributions. Commitment to interviews
Impact Stakeholder advisory meeting, March 2015.
Start Year 2015
 
Title CEH Drought Portal 
Description The UK drought portal is a tool to help understand the severity and magnitude of drought at different spatial scales across the UK over the past half century. Droughts can be visualised and explored through interactive maps and graphs The current version shows the relative magnitude of drought events within river basins and individual catchments based on rainfall deficits over durations ranging from 1 to 24 months. In future this could be extended to include the impact of varying evaporation rates, drought metrics based on river flow and groundwater conditions, or even to display current drought status from real-time drought information. The Drought Portal is based on underlying SPI and SPEI datasets delivered by the DrIVER project. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact The Drought Portal is now going to be released (March 2017) as a real-time monitoring tool, to allow users to visualise the current water situation in a historical context using datasets available on the portal. Further information will be added in mid-2017. 
URL https://eip.ceh.ac.uk/droughts
 
Description Aquator Users Group Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Jamie Hannaford was invited keynote speaker at the Aquator Users Group annual conference, comprising professionals from across the water industry and regulators. The group meets annually to discuss water resources and drought planning in the context of the Aquator software.

The presentation was entitled: "Improving information for drought planning and decision-making" and included outputs from two NERC projects, Historic Droughts and DrIVER.

The event was held at Worcester College, Oxford, 12th October 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description British Hydrological Society Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation to the BHS International Conference at Cranfield, September 2016. Cedric Laize presented work carried out on 'Drought Impacts on River Ecology', carried out in the Historic Droughts and DriVER projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.hydrology.org.uk/assets/Cranfield%20Programme.rev.pdf
 
Description CIWEM National Water Resources Panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Jamie Hannaford was invited speaker at the CIWEM national water resources panel.

Title of presentation: Improving drought information for decision making. The presentation covered two NERC projects, DrIVER and Historic Droughts, and considered how the outputs are potentially useful for the water industry in two contexts: 1) long-term strategic planning and 2) early warning to support decision-making in a drought.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Defra Workshop on Drought Research 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Defra hosted a one-day workshop to discuss the variety of NERC funded drought research underway at present, primarily in the Drought and Water Scarcity Programme.

Jamie Hannaford presented the outcomes and plans of the following projects.
- DrIVER
- Historic Droughts
- HydEOmex
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Drought Workshop (Beijing) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact International workshop on drought science, aimed at early career researchers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Drought and Water Scarcity HackWeek (funded by NERC and Unilever): 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Approximately 20 scientists were invited to participate in a "HackWeek" along with "HackMasters" to tackle the issue of drought and water scarcity. The scientists ranged from postgraduate students to university lecturers, with expertise ranging from environmental science to social science. The scientists were broken into three groups to tackle:
- Using media (newspaper and twitter) data to understand drought events - tying social responses to drought events
- Using remotely sensed spatial data to develop a website for drought information
- Using social media to encourage social response to droughts - through twitter campaigns
The outcomes of these investigations and draft application development were presented to government policymakers, stakeholders and industry representatives with much positive feedback.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Drought and Water Scarcity Programme - Agriculture Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The first researcher-stakeholder event under the DWS Programme 'DROUGHT exchanges' banner, took place in Peterborough on 2nd December 2016. It was attended by researchers from all four projects, regulators, colleagues from the National Farmers Union, the UK Irrigation Association, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and the Horticultural Traders Association. We were especially pleased that is was also supported by a number of farmers and farm enterprises. The morning started with an overview of research progress from each of the four drought projects, followed by a 'quick-fire' round where, in 5 minute slots, 9 stakeholders gave their perspective on the key data, decision-making, and research needs or priorities in relation to droughts and water scarcity in the agriculture, and food production and supply sector. With these challenges in mind, the afternoon session comprised work in three groups aimed at identifying how the DWS Programme might respond to some of these challenges.

The event was organised by the Programme Co-ordination Team, which includes researchers from Historic Droughts. IN addition, the Historic Droughts PI, Jamie Hannaford, presented an overview of the Historic Droughts Project on the day as input to the discussions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Drought and Water Scarcity Programme - First Annual Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact The First Annual Conference of the RCUK Droughts & Water Scarcity (DWS) Programme was held 27-28 June 2016 at St Anne's College, Oxford. The conference was the first opportunity for researchers working across the four projects in the DWS programme to meet and learn about each other's work. The two days of conference included presentations from researchers, a breakout session along disciplinary/research focus lines, and interactive sessions.

The event was organised by the Programme Co-ordination Team (PCT), including members of Historic Droughts; this is part-funded by the top-up grant to the Historic Droughts project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description HYPER Droughts Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The HYPER Droughts Conference was a major international conference on drought held in Prague, under the auspices of the EGU (the 6th EGU Leonardo Conference). Jamie Hannaford was on the organising committee and also guest edited a special issue of Hydrology and Earth System Sciences following the conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Historic Droughts Symposium 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact On 22nd March 2016, a public symposium was hosted by the Historic Droughts project at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Wallingford. The aim of the day was to foster discussion on current scientific and decision-maker perspectives on the use of historical drought information in contemporary drought management, under the broad theme "Understanding past droughts to inform decision-making in future". The event was very well attended, with over 100 delegates from a diversity of backgrounds, including academics, government and policymakers, regulators and consultants, a wide cross-section of the water industry and representatives from a range of economic sectors (agriculture, horticulture, power generation, etc.).

The first session invited research perspectives from the academics on the advisory panel of the Historic Droughts project. This included four international perspectives: a broad view of drought impacts and management across Europe (Henny van Lanen, Wageningen University); an overview of drought physical processes and management issues in Spain (Sergio Vicente-Serrano, Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología); an assessment of current practice in using historical drought information in the USA (Cody Knutson, National Drought Mitigation Center); and a case study of a reconstruction of past hydrometeorological droughts, extending back to 1871, from France (Eric Sauquet, IRSTEA). The final perspective came from the UK, and gave a very long-term view of drought and other weather extremes based on documentary evidence (Georgina Endfield, University of Nottingham).

The second session then invited perspectives from stakeholders involved in drought management, drawn from the project's stakeholder advisory panel, who presented views on UK drought impacts and management frameworks, and stakeholder needs for historical drought information. This included views from two environmental regulators responsible for drought management in England and Scotland (Pauline Smith from the EA and Richard Gosling from SEPA), a representative from the agricultural sector (Mike Storey from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board), a water company (Stamatia Evangelidou from Anglian Water) and a view from consultancy (Colin Fenn, Hydro-Logic).

The final session showcased the Historic Droughts project and presented early project achievements. Jamie Hannaford (CEH) gave an overview of the project, before three presentations reflecting the diversity of activities within the project: preliminary hydrogeological drought reconstructions (Ben Marchant, BGS), an overview of work examining impacts of past droughts on agriculture (Ian Holman, Cranfield University) and a survey of some of the main themes emerging from the project's work on recollections of past droughts through oral histories (Rebecca Pearce, University of Exeter).

Delegates at the Historic Droughts SymposiumDiscussions were held after each session and then at the end of the day. There was lively and stimulating discussion which provided thoughtful perspectives for the Historic Droughts project. A recurring theme was the challenges in actually using information from the past to inform management decisions: to what extent are past drought events useful given how much our socioeconomic situation, and drought management frameworks, have changed over time? And how much can we learn from past rainfall or river flow extremes in a non-stationary world? Valuable food for thought for researchers and practitioners engaged in this issue, and questions that are at the core of the work being undertaken by Historic Droughts.

A poster session was held, with posters on display during the coffee and lunch breaks, and in a drinks reception after the formal programme, where many attendees stayed on to continue discussions with the project team and visiting stakeholders. There were 20 Posters on a diversity of themes including: data, drought modelling/reconstruction, drought forecasting, drought identification, the impacts of drought and social narratives of drought. Half of the posters presented results from Historic Droughts, representing the wide range of disciplinary backgrounds within the project, including analyses of past droughts from hyrometeorological, agricultural, social and linguistic perspectives. There were also posters from the other projects in the Research Council's Droughts and Water Scarcity Programme, IMPETUS, MaRIUS and DRY.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://historicdroughts.ceh.ac.uk/content/historic-droughts-symposium-march-2016
 
Description Historic Droughts Website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Launch of the Historic Droughts website as the primary mechanism for disseminating the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://historicdroughts.ceh.ac.uk/
 
Description RMETS/NCAS Workshop on Drought Modelling and Management 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The aims of this workshop were (1) to present the scientific advances on drought modelling, as well as presenting social science research on drought
management and governance and (2) to invite the mixed audience of the session to respond to these advances through direct discussions with the
researchers.

The event was co-organised by the Historic Droughts project and the MaRIUS project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.rmets.org/sites/default/files/R11%20-%20Drought%20modelling%20and%20management.pdf