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“Are we talking just a bit of water out of bank? Or is it Armageddon?” Front line perspectives on transitioning to probabilistic fluvial flood forecasts in England

Arnal, L., Anspoks, L., Manson, S., Neumann, J. ORCID:, Norton, T., Stephens, E. ORCID:, Wolfenden, L. and Cloke, H. L. ORCID: (2020) “Are we talking just a bit of water out of bank? Or is it Armageddon?” Front line perspectives on transitioning to probabilistic fluvial flood forecasts in England. Geoscience Communications, 3. pp. 203-232. ISSN 2569-7110

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To link to this item DOI: 10.5194/gc-3-203-2020


Abstract. The inclusion of uncertainty in flood forecasts is a recent, important yet challenging endeavour. In the chaotic and far from certain world we live in, probabilistic estimates of potential future floods are vital. By showing the uncertainty surrounding a prediction, probabilistic forecasts can give an earlier indication of potential future floods, increasing the amount of time we have to prepare. In practice, making a binary decision based on probabilistic information is challenging. The Environment Agency (EA), responsible for managing risks of flooding in England, is in the process of a transition to probabilistic fluvial flood forecasts. A series of interviews were carried out with EA decision-makers (i.e. duty officers) to understand how this transition might affect their decision-making activities. The interviews highlight the complex and evolving landscape (made of alternative hard scientific facts and soft values) in which EA duty officers operate, where forecasts play an integral role in decision-making. While EA duty officers already account for uncertainty and communicate their confidence in the system they use, they view the transition to probabilistic flood forecasts as both an opportunity and a challenge in practice. Based on the interview results, recommendations are made to the EA to ensure a successful transition to probabilistic forecasts for flood early warning in England. We believe that this paper is of wide interest for a range of sectors at the intersection between geoscience and society. A glossary of technical terms is highlighted by asterisks in the text and included in Appendix A.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:91698


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