Skip to main content

Completed Projects

 CEDRRiC Project Village


Indonesia: Java Flood One

October 2018 to September 2021 

Project Lead: Prof. Simon Mathias, Earth Sciences, Durham University 

Durham University Co-Leads: Dr Sim Reaney (Co Director of the IHRR and Geography), Dr Camila Caiado (Maths), Prof. Louise Bracken (IHRR and Geography) 

Flooding represents the most frequently occurring hydrometeorological hazard in Indonesia, contributing to around 31% of all disaster events with impacts in Jakarta alone costing around USD 321 million per year. Due to Java's topography, climate, dense urbanisation and inadequate infrastructure, improvements to structural flood defences alone are unlikely to prevent flooding in these areas in the future. Instead, resilience needs to be built through the combined efforts of flood management information systems and greater public awareness. 

The objective of this project is to create a set of medium-term flood forecast (MRFF) tools for the urban centres of Jakarta, Bandung and Surakarta on the island of Java, Indonesia.  

The project is in partnership will colleagues from The Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and the skills and outcomes will be strongly embedded within ITB going forwards.  

We plan to improve on existing work by applying a dynamic stochastic meteorological model to provide medium term flood forecasts. To overcome excessive computational times associated with flood inundation models, we plan to wrap everything up within a probabilistic emulation framework. We will also implement repeat photogrammetry surveys with drones, to capture and characterise subsidence and anthropogenic topographic changes. Focus group meetings with local flood-affected communities will be held to inform the development of internet/social media flood warning dissemination tools. 

The Durham University and ITB team will collaborate with government departments such as: 

  • BNBP/BPBD (Indonesia's Disaster Management Agency) 
  • IAHRI (Indonesian Agro-climate and Hydrological Research Institute) 
  • PT Reasuransi MAIPARK  
  • local NGO Jaga Balai 

These latter organisations represent local community groups who have set up their own flood warning system using real-time and historical visual observations. 


Java flood one Indonesia


Smart Urban Resilience: Enabling Citizen Action in Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Response

April 2019 to March 2022 

Project Lead: Dr Andres Luque-Ayala (Geography, Durham University) 

Durham University Co-Leads: Prof. Ben Anderson (Geography), Prof. Alex Densmore (Geography) 

Natural hazards in Mexico are a significant source of human suffering and economic loss. Between 2000–2010, natural hazards caused 2,367 deaths, leaving over 15m people affected (Gobierno de la República 2014). With natural disasters generating estimated annual average losses of $2.9b USD (UNISDR 2015), identifying novel, integrated and shared forms of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and emergency response is a national priority (General Civil Protection Law 2012; IFORM 2017).  

Such need is particularly salient for medium-size cities, home to the majority of the world’s urban population yet poorly understood—and where urban sprawl, poor planning, and rapid demographic growth increase the scale of the challenges associated with disaster management, prevention and response. 

The project aims to understand how smart city and urban digital technologies play a role in building urban resilience through changing the ways in which citizens prepare and respond to natural disasters and emergencies - empirically testing whether and how citizen engagement is important for realising the potential of smart urban technologies in DRR. Focusing on medium-size cities, the project examines existing practice and future potential of a range of smart city interventions (such as open data platforms, civic hacking, smart urban planning and others) for altering the role of different social actors in DRR and emergency response. 

Three case study cities will form the focus of the project: 

  • Queretaro: central Mexico, facing stronger storms and floods due to changing rainfall patterns, insufficient pluvial infrastructure, and erosion/urbanization of infiltration areas. 
  • Puebla: zone of intense seismic activity; high concentration of population in metropolitan zone. 
  • Acapulco: located in a coastal area, prone to hurricanes, earthquakes, landslides and floods. 

This is a joint initiative between: 

  • Durham University (Geography Department and Institute of Hazards, Risk and Resilience) 
  • CIDE-CentroMet (Centro Latam Digital and CentroMet-CONACYT) 
  • Newcastle University (Global Urban Research Unit-GURU) 
  • Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero-UAGRO 





The BIOPICCC project is based on an academic research project, carried out in collaboration with a number of non-academic partners representing agencies and communities concerned with how to ensure continuity of care for older people during extreme weather events.  

The older population is growing in numbers and extreme events are occurring now, so this is an urgent issue.  Looking ahead, population trends and projections for future weather patterns suggest it will continue to be very important.




The BIOPICC project has developed in stages. 

Stage 1:

Main research for BIOPICCC – the ‘first generation’ toolkit

BIOPICCC was funded as a 3-year research project (November 2009 - October 2012) by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, within a major research network on Adaptation and Resilience in a Changing Climate. The project developed strategies to help ensure that the infrastructures and systems supporting the health and social care for older people (aged 65 and over) will be sufficiently resilient to withstand harmful impacts of climate change in the future, up to 2050.

The research was conducted by a multidisciplinary team, based at Durham University and Heriot-Watt University.  The team had expertise in engineering, hazard modelling, social and geographical science and health and health care research.

The team worked in partnership with representatives of local communities and service agencies in two case study areas in England, and with national strategic agencies. The project is cited in the National Adaptation Plan 2013 and by the NHS Sustainability Unit.

The ‘first generation’  BIOPICCC toolkit, has now been updated in light of new information from Stages 2 and 3

Stage 2:

Scoping local demand for ‘all weather’ extreme events guidance

With funding from the NERC-PURE Associates scheme, members of the team from Durham collaborated with Public Health England (PHE), to pilot a draft set of materials for use by Local Authorities and their partners concerned with continuity of care during extreme weather events (EWE).

Our research in stage 1 had shown that it can be challenging for local agencies to prioritise strategic planning on this issue and involve staff at all levels of the organization to prepare for such events. 

We agreed with PHE a summary of key preparatory actions that are likely to build resilience to all types of extreme weather (heatwaves, floods, extreme cold).  These were based on existing guidance from PHE and Defra, but were simplified as a single list of basic actions. 

The draft advice was designed in a way that might be included in routine management and planning meetings, to minimize demands on limited time and resources. Also it could be adapted to local needs and conditions.

We tested the draft advice in discussion with local authority partners in three parts of Northern England.  Key findings were:

- Across the case study areas much of the existing national advice and guidance was being considered, cascading information in the form of extreme weather protocols/severe weather plans though the local authorities.  PHE guidance has helped adapt local practice for a more preventative and proactive approach, though some participants seemed not to be aware of some aspects of the existing PHE guidance on EWE preparedness.

- Participants thought there is a case for simplified, all-weather advice and guidance to be cascaded to practitioners working in health and social care systems. Some suggested that different types of alerts for different types of extreme weather events were confusing. 

- It remains a challenge to compile, and make accessible, up to date ‘at risk’ registers of vulnerable groups including older people who are most at risk during extreme weather. Informal information sources remain important in identifying those most at risk.

- More could be done to involve service users and local communities in preparing for EWEs to help safeguard continuity of health and social care for groups such as older people.  More use might be made of existing information sources for service users and their neighbours.

- The participants (some of whom were from rural areas) commented on the need for suitably adapted strategies in sparsely populated areas, different from those used in urban areas.

- Most of our information was collected from participants working at managerial level. There was interest in parts of our draft advice relating to those delivering health and social care.  However, some senior adult social care managers questioned how far frontline staff have the capacity to embed awareness of EWE forward planning in their working practices, especially given the pressures resulting from public expenditure cuts.

Stage 3:

Assessing the longer term impacts of the BIOPICCC project – new case studies

With funding from Durham University Geography Department, members of the BIOPICCC team, together with Catherine Max Consulting ( followed up with partners involved in the original BIOPICCC programme and also with contacts from other local authorities who had made use of the BIOPICCC toolkit in their work.  

This involved two phases:

1) A telephone survey of local agencies using the toolkit, reported here.

A telephone survey was carried out in September 2015. It asked about longer term impacts of BIOPICCC and collected information from 7 local organizations who originally took part in the BIOPICCC project and/or had made use of the BIOPICCC toolkit after the project finished.

Key messages included:

  • The BIOPICCC toolkit provided unique resources, not available elsewhere, and respondents saw a continuing need for it.
  • The toolkit was adaptable to different geographical areas and planning priorities; some groups who had not been directly involved in the original project had found it helpful to achieve their planning and development goals for EWE planning.
  • The toolkit made it easier for users to identify who were the key partners they should aim to work with on EWE planning.
  • Some of the groups using the toolkit found it helped them to raise resources for additional work on EWE planning.
  • A ‘refresh’ of the toolkit would be useful.

2) A stakeholder event to share recent experience and new knowledge, reported here.

Key messages included:

  • Tangible progress and action on key priorities have been established in the case study areas, some of which seem to have increased resilience to EWE.
  • Preparedness for EWE events depends crucially on local community and Parish Council engagement and initiative. Parts of the BIOPICCC toolkit which relate to such local initiatives may prove increasingly useful.
  • There can be conflicts of view regarding responsibility for maintaining continuity of health and social care during EWE.
  • The recent establishment of Health and Wellbeing Boards and the relocation of public health from NHS to local authority agencies means that new relationships on which to build preparedness for EWE have had to be set up.
  • Given the impacts of recent EWE on community health and wellbeing, it is important that progress in preparedness should not be derailed by sometimes contentious debate about how far climate change is a factor.
  • Further case studies and information to make the BIOPICCC toolkit more relevant to socially and culturally diverse communities in urban settings would be valuable.

To access the BIOPICCC toolkit, please use the following link: BIOPICCC toolkit

For further information on the BIOPICCC toolkit, please contact Dr Jonathan Wistow:

For further information on the BIOPICCC and other IHRR projects: 





Multi-Dimensional Perspectives on Flood Risk

Recent changes in flood management policy towards more distributed, holistic management has seen management responsibility increasingly transferred downwards onto those at risk, with a concomitant increase in policies intended to promote active public participation in flood management. However, active participation in flood management remains elusive, with established, expert-led practices of management still pre-eminent in many areas.

The multi-dimensional perspectives on flood risk project challenge existing practices in flood risk management through the adoption of novel participatory approaches to exploring issues traditionally considered to be expert-led. Working together with communities in the Twizell Burn catchment in the northeast of England, the research looks to explore how current practices of catchment management are shaped by competing frames of knowledge regarding citizen participation. Building upon this understanding of the current practice, the research also explores how participatory approaches can open up and enhance existing practices of flood management. At Corbridge in the Tyne Catchment in the northeast of England, working together with a flood-affected community the research explores how local knowledge can be used to enhance the validation of complex numerical flood models. Builds upon novel participatory research approaches pioneered at Durham University, it also works together with flood victims to explore how flood risk is communicated. Opening up the discussion of what information is important to whom and why using in-depth participatory techniques reveals the limitations of our current communications and allows the development of new approaches which more effectively act to promote local resilience to future floods.

Flooding is a major hazard in England, potentially affecting over 5 million properties. Climate change is predicted to increase the risks posed by flooding in the future. There is an urgent need to integrate people living at risk from flooding into flood management approaches, encouraging flood resilience and the up-take of resilient, pre-flood activities. The effective communication of flood risk information plays a major role in providing the information necessary for those at-risk to make decisions about flood risk and prepare for future floods.

This research, currently being carried out by Durham and Newcastle universities in Corbridge, explores how flood risk communications could be undertaken more effectively, based on the perspectives of those at risk from floods. The research finds that current approaches to real-time flood risk communication fail to forecast the likely significance of predicted floods, whilst current passive approaches to flood mapping lack detailed information about how floods occur, or use confusing scientific terminology which people at risk find difficult to relate to the realities of flooding on the ground. This means users do not have information in a format they find useful to make informed decisions about how to prepare for and respond to future floods.

Working together with at-risk participants as part of the Corbridge Flood Research Group, the research has co-produced new approaches for communicating flood risk. These approaches focus on providing detailed information on past floods, helping people to contextualise past flood experiences and to understand how and why their area floods. This helps them to understand their risk and take appropriate pre-flood actions, such as preparing a flood plan or identifying key belongings to move to safety. These approaches also focus on providing forecasts of predicted flooding and allow those at risk to explore catchment wide information, allowing them to assess the significance of predicted flooding and make more informed judgments on what action to take when flooding is predicted.

The figures presented below show the new approaches that have been co-produced by the Corbridge Flood Research Group. Click on the figures to view a high resolution version.

The graphics presented in this section are mock-ups of potential options for alternative, online flood risk communications. Actual implementation would require additional engagement with end-users to ensure that interactive functionality was effective and properly integrated. However, the graphics have been designed to be as realistic as possible by using readily available information and drawing on current industry or academic approaches to assessing flood risk. The information used of the maps is summarised below.

Ordnance Survey Mapping

The Ordnance Survey Mapping used for the graphics is Ordnance Survey Open Data and is freely available even for commercial usage. Other examples of online flood mapping have made use of Google Maps or Bing Maps background mapping . Flood Depths and Flood Dynamics

The flood depth and dynamics information presented on Figure 4 represented estimated maximum flood depths during the December 4/5 2015 flood event. These depths have been generated by a flood inundation model constructed using the Lisflood-fp modelling package1. The model outputs, including the key flood mechanisms and dynamics, have been validated using information collected from the community as part of the research process.

River Gauge Levels

The style of the river gauge level graphs presented on the graphics are copied from the existing style used by the current online gauge graphs.

The water levels on the graphs and the current river level states are synthetic for information only and do not represent an actual flooding event. The approach to river level forecasting is based on proposals made by Leedal et al2.

P.D Bates and A.P.J De Roo, ‘A Simple Raster-Based Model for Flood Inundation Simulation’, Journal of Hydrology 236, no. 1–2 (September 2000): 54–77, doi:10.1016/S0022-1694(00)00278-X. – see here.

2 D. Leedal et al., ‘A Data Based Mechanistic Real-Time Flood Forecasting Module for NFFS FEWS’, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions 9, no. 6 (8 June 2012): 7271–96, doi:10.5194/hessd-9-7271-2012.

River Tyne catchment overview showing all water level gauges with their current status and the magnitude of any change

Figure 01 – River Tyne catchment overview showing all water level gauges with their current status and the magnitude of any change

This map presents an overview of the Tyne catchment showing the gauges and their current water level status, as well as the status of any flood alerts currently in place. The size of the gauge icons indicates the rate of rise or fall of the water level. The design is based on a combination of the USGS Flood Inundation Mapper, which allows viewing of gauges at a country scale, and the Fishpal website, which provides a gauge state of rising, falling, or stable. However, whereas Fishpal provides only a tabulated list of gauges this would allow rapid visual assessment.

This view allows the user to quickly assess the state of water levels across the catchment, particularly about how quickly the river is responding to rainfall and how far downstream a flood wave has progressed.

The group considered this view to be very useful for providing an overview of the catchment and for assessing the significance of any rises in water levels. To enhance the information provided and to make it easier to interpret, hovering the mouse over individual gauges would provide a gauge location name and a current level. Clicking on individual gauges would open the gauge level view. Zooming in on this map would also show details of current flood warnings in place.

The gauge dashboard showing the four options for live gauge graphs

Figure 02 - The gauge dashboard showing the four options for live gauge graphs

This figure presents different options for the way that ‘live’ gauge information should be presented:

1. The current situation showing a five-day historic water level with maximum previous water level and 'flooding possible over' water levels

2. The current situation allowing the overlay of a past flood onto the five-day period; a past flood could also be the synthetic hydrograph for a significant flood, for example the 1% AEP event

3. The current situation with a water level predicted into the future including potential estimation error

4. The current situation allowing viewing of both the predicted water levels and the historic overlay

Several general comments were made by the group regarding the gauges.

  • The current 'flooding possible over' level was considered to be confusing without any contextual information about the areas of the study area this referred to.
  • The five-day historic view was considered to be too long for a catchment such as the Tyne were water levels rise within one to two days of rainfall.

Of the options presented, both the historic overlay and the predicted water levels were considered to be important, although viewing both of these on the same graph was considered too complex. The group considered the prediction and estimation error to be easily understandable if presented alongside explanatory information. However, the prediction timescale should be limited in time to maintain a reasonable margin of error, so as to avoid people writing off the prediction as meaningless. The historic view should allow different past events to be overlain so that different magnitudes of flooding could be examined.

The detailed flood map showing key information about the flood mechanisms and dynamics for a past flood in an interactive fashion

Figure 03 - The detailed flood map showing key information about the flood mechanisms and dynamics for a past flood in an interactive fashion

This map presents a detailed 'account' of a past flood, showing modelled flood depths alongside information on specific flood dynamics, mechanisms and water flows. Clicking on different aspects of the map would provide detailed information on the dynamics of the flood, impacts, and any post-flood actions that might have altered the flood risk, for example flood defence works.

It also presents the recorded flood hydrograph, allowing the water levels to be interrogated. This would be linked to the different aspects of the map, highlighting key dynamics at different water levels, for example areas of overtopping activated at particular water levels on the rising limb of the hydrograph. The hydrograph would also overlay the current water level, which could be used to assess the present risk and how this compared to the past event.

The group considered the detail of the information on this map to be very useful in developing a deep understanding of the flood characteristics of their area, and a possible way of making people more familiar with water levels and the realities of flooding events. Another map was also presented alongside this one which showed only the flood depths; this second map was not considered to be as useful as it lacked the contextual information which explained the dynamics of the flood.

The flood explorer simulator which allows the user to set different water levels and simulates the areas impacted and their estimated flood depths

Figure 04 - The flood explorer simulator which allows the user to set different water levels and simulates the areas impacted and their estimated flood depths

This map links flood levels to areas potentially at risk from flooding by allowing the user to scroll the water level for a given area and identifying the extent and depth of potential flooding. It would also present the current gauge graph and predicted water levels, allowing the user to explore the potential impacts of predicted water levels.

The group considered this map to be very useful as a way of allowing them to assess the impacts of potential future flood levels. Although this map did not present possible areas of overtopping or flood dynamics, the group considered this unimportant when used in combination with the detailed information on past floods. The simplicity of this map made it more useful for using alongside the active information in the immediate pre-flood period, whereas the more detailed maps were for use in the longer-term planning phase.


Regeneration of Brownfield Land Using Sustainable Technologies 

Regeneration of Brownfield Land Using Sustainable Technologies

Without healthy soil, we damage our ability to generate clean water supplies and of course, to grow our food. And yet, soil is not currently protected under the UK’s Sustainable Development Goals and we aim to change this. The total annual cost of soil degradation in England and Wales is likely to sit at around £1.2 billion a year. Without protecting this resource for future generations we risk losing the ecosystem services which soils offer us in both the urban and agricultural environment.

We are particularly interested in urban soils and how brownfield sites can be transformed by communities into useful green spaces. Urban soils are often neglected but have the potential to help mitigate flooding, improve community health and wellbeing, increase biodiversity, and store carbon.

We are working to ensure that soil is a focus of future government policy. The social and economic devastation (estimated at £100M so far in the 2014 UK Somerset floods alone) caused by flooding is readily apparent. But the hidden (in plain sight), arguably even bigger issue, is that the muddy floodwaters are taking even more soil organic matter (SOM or carbon) and minerals out of our soils, exacerbating the vicious circle of climate change - soil degradation - climate change - soil degradation. The recent devastating flooding in our cities could be reduced if our soils (both urban and agricultural) were capable of storing and transmitting water at the same time as retaining their shear strength so that they are not washed away. In the vacuum of legislation protecting soil, soil carbon levels have, and continue to drop and yet opportunities for policymakers and environmental specialists to work closely with the engineering sector to address these issues are being missed. We cannot preserve soils for future generations without a policy framework where soil is valued and its ecosystem services are translated into economics. This has been done for other environmental resources such as air and water but not for soil.

We have been exploring the links between minerals and carbon in soil. Minerals are known to stabilise organic carbon in sediments, affecting biogeochemical cycles and global climate, but the stabilisation mechanism is not understood. We have shown that manganese oxide, a common mineral in soils and ocean sediments, can trap organic carbon and may act as a 'mineral pump', transforming organic carbon from an unstable into a stable form. Ongoing research is focused on using this knowledge to help stabilise carbon in soils by putting carbon together with manganese and other reactive minerals back into the soil together. The food we eat and textiles we wear come from the soil and yet 30 million tonnes of the resulting carbon-based wastes are not being returned to the soil to maintain soil health and SOM levels. The world’s ecosystems are reaching a tipping point, and we believe it is vital to put carbon and minerals back into the soil in order to allow soil to continue to provide essential ecosystem services. Water retention will follow, improving soil quality, mitigating flooding and potentially reducing carbon turnover to atmospheric greenhouse gases.

If you are interested in working in the areas below, please contact us at the IHRR: 

  • Regeneration of brownfield land using waste minerals and organic matter
  • Links between brownfield land and community health and wellbeing
  • Mineral – carbon interactions and their role in soil structure
  • Engineering soils for flood mitigation

Dr Karen Johnson demonstrated the link between soil health and flooding with help from Hotspur Primary School. View the video here.Get in touch


Community-based Earthquake Disaster Risk Reduction in China (CEDRRiC) 

January 2016 to January 2019 

Earthquakes are a major threat to lives, livelihoods, and economic development in China. Of the 2-2.5 million deaths in earthquakes worldwide since 1900, at least 650,000 have occurred in China 


Mapping Flood Extent in Nepal for the 2017 monsoon 

Rainfall generated flooding is a significant annual problem in the Himalaya, especially in the latter stages of monsoon season. To reduce the impacts on communities we normally apply hydrological and hydraulic simulation models and analysis to test a range of mitigation scenarios. For these tools to work, we need detailed datasets on the flood flows, floodplain topography and the inundated extent within the floodplain areas.  


Health Interventions in Volcanic Eruptions (HIVE) 

Project Lead: Claire Horwell, IHRR and Earth Sciences (2015 to 2019) 

HIVE is a research consortium that compiled an evidence base on the effectiveness and suitability of different forms of respiratory protection for general population use during volcanic crises. Results of the laboratory work have been used by NGOs and communities in Indonesia in decision making on mask procurement during the eruption of Agung volcano. 


Coastal Behaviour and Rates of Activity (COBRA) 

Project Lead: Nick Rosser, IHRR and Geography (2002 to 2019) 

Exploring the relationship between cliff rock falls and their association with marine and weather conditions using advanced monitoring and modelling techniques. 



Project Lead: Sim Reaney, IHRR and Geography (2009 to 2018) 

A national demonstration test catchment for monitoring the River Eden to reduce risks of diffuse pollution from agriculture. 


Earthquakes without Frontiers (EwF) 

Project Lead: Alex Densmore, Geography (2012 to 2018) 

A multidisciplinary project studying the physical environment of the continental interiors and vulnerabilities of communities who live in these areas. 


Multi-dimensional Perspectives on Flood Risk 

October 2014 to April 2018 

A multi-disciplinary project using a novel participatory framework to work with people at risk from flooding in re-imagining flood risk communications to help build preparedness and resilience. 


COST Action IS1101 

Project Lead: Andrew Baldwin, Geography (2013 to 2016) 

Climate Change and Migration: knowledge, law and policy and theory. 



Project Lead: Susana Carro-Ripalda, Anthropology 

GMFuturos is a cross-cultural comparative study on the debates, perceptions and practices surrounding GM technologies in Mexico, Brazil and India. 


Regeneration of Brownfield Using Sustainable Technologies (ROBUST) 

Karen Johnson, Engineering (2012 to 2015) 

ROBUST investigates the role of sustainable technologies for recovering brownfield land and is searching for ways to transform land formerly used by industry into a valuable resource. 



The SESAME project aims to understand and model the effects of flooding on the UK’s small / medium businesses and the wider economy, along with helping businesses to be better prepared for flooding in the future. 


Tipping Points 

Project Lead: Sarah Curtis, Geography (2012 to 2015) 

Use of the tipping point metaphor in academia and the media has accelerated recently. Through a series of work packages that bring together researchers from the sciences and humanities, this project will discover how 'tipping point' is used and whether it describes actual socioeconomic or physical events in the world we live in. 


Securing against Future Events 

Project Lead: Louise Amoore, Geography (2012 to 2015) 

SaFE investigates the use of security protocols, pre-emptions and technologies to safeguard against future terrorist attacks.