Weather-wise Wolverhampton

Wolverhampton University researchers have secured £1.5m in EPRSC research funding for a programme to help communities improve their resilience to extreme weather.

Prof David Proverbs and research fellow Dr Fiona Berryman from the School of Engineering and the Built Environment sought the backing for the three-year Community Resilience to Extreme Weather (CREW) research programme.

CREW aims to help improve the resilience of local communities to the impacts of extreme weather events such as flooding, heatwaves, lightning, drought and wind. London will be used as the case study site and the team includes academic experts from 18 universities across the UK, including Wolverhampton, Birmingham, De Montfort, Greenwich, Cranfield, Glasgow, Loughborough, Manchester and Newcastle.

Proverbs is part of the team investigating how local decision makers, such as government, businesses and householders, are affected by, and respond to, extreme weather events and how that affects community resilience.

Berryman is part of the team developing methods of assessing the risk to the local community of extreme weather events and providing the community with information for making weather-related decisions.

Proverbs, head of Construction and Infrastructure at Wolverhampton’s School of Engineering and the Built Environment, is a flood damage expert. ‘In the UK, there is evidence that extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and severity,’ he said. ‘This has led to growing concerns that the costs of managing such events and their impacts on society will rise. It is known that society’s resilience and its ability to cope with the aftermath of an event is largely determined by the strategic decisions taken before, during and after the event.

‘The team will start by developing an holistic understanding of the impacts that future events may have on UK communities. A decision-making framework will be developed incorporating scientific, technical, economic, social, political and business factors. A range of tools, including decision making, visual aids, ‘what-if?’ scenarios, cost-benefit analyses, and good practice guidance which will allow communities to develop effective coping measures, will then be produced.’

The government, emergency services, urban planners, and local businesses will also gain a better understanding of the impact of extreme weather events. Additional benefits could potentially include householders enjoying greater property values and shouldering less repair costs than at present.

Local policy makers, households and businesses will be involved and consulted throughout to ensure that the end results are both appropriate and useable.