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17th May 2024

Resilience to Fluvial Flooding: Knowns and Unknowns to Recommendations for Management

Flooded river onto field - Photo Credit: Andrew Tabas


In this Science Policy Fellowship, the research team aimed to critique what we know and don’t know about fluvial flood risk, resilience and management. The research team used the epistemological construct of “known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns” to assess both scientific and stakeholder knowledge. The team conducted a Rapid Evidence Assessment utilising the power of AI to synthesise thousands of papers and to produce network visualisations of keywords and conducted a workshop with key stakeholders. Four themes emerged; 1) Climate Change; 2) Flood Generating Hydrology; 3) Natural Flood Management; and 4) Stakeholder Engagement.



The research team's specific recommendations include:

  • Mainstream and upscale NFM implementation, supported by monitoring and maintenance. Ensure NFM is assessed holistically for use alongside hard engineered solutions.  
  • Contextualize flood management decisions to take into account hydrological complexity, non-linearity, and the unique geography of each catchment.  
  • Shift to adaptive planning, to account for future uncertainty associated with climate change, including in terms of mindset, economic appraisal, and funding mechanisms.  
  • Encourage community co-creation of flood management for place-based, socially accepted policies, relating to standard of protection, risk perception, and balance of options.  
  • Address the many gaps in our knowledge, highlighted by scientific confidence assessments and Unknown Unknowns, which need future research.

CREW Science Policy Fellowships

This project is part of CREW's  Science Policy Fellowship workstream which intends to support evidence-based decisions by providing the opportunity for Scotland’s research community to advocate for critical science that addresses upcoming water-related policy, regulatory and/or industry needs. You can read more about CREW Science Policy Fellowships here.

CREW commissioned three Science Policy Fellowships which are aligned to, and support, the development of Scotland’s first Flood Resilience Strategy. Read more about the two other projects here:

Building Public Health Resilience to Fluvial Flooding in Scotland

Policy to Preparedness: Flood Policy and Community Engagement

You can read more about other engagement activity, led by Sniffer working closely with Scottish Flood Forum and ClimatexChange, to support the development of Scotland's first Flood Resileince Strategy here.

Project Outputs (please scroll down for written outputs)