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Managing tidal flood risk in London, England

Much of London is built on the floodplain. Notable floods from the River Thames leading to loss of life occurred in 1099, 1236, 1663, 1791, 1928 and 1953. The Thames Barrier and associated flood defences now protect much of London and the Flood Modeller 1D solver is the model of choice for informing the operation of the Barrier.

Our software is also used to support many other flood risk management activities in London and the Thames Estuary. Key features that make it the ideal tool for modelling the Thames include:

  • Accurate representation of the operation of major structures such as the Thames Barrier.

  • Flexibility to select either a one-dimensional representation (1D), two-dimensional (2D) representation or a coupled 1D (channel) to 2D (floodplain) model.

  • Robust and rapid calculation engine.

  • Ability to run within the Delft FEWS-based National Flood Forecasting System.

  • Inclusion of wind shear effects.

  • High quality support and maintenance.

These attributes mean that those using it to support critical operational decisions, such as when to close the Thames Barrier to protect London, can be fully confident in the model’s ability to provide robust water level estimates on demand.

Our software has been successfully used on the Thames to:

  • Calculate extreme water levels, which are used to inform the design of new defences and assess the risk from breaching to new developments

  • Undertake daily operation forecasts of water levels to support operational decision making for the Thames Barrier and associated gates

  • Produce design water level boundaries for a TUFLOW model of the floodplain, which determined the tidal Flood Zones across London

  • Support emergency planning via implementation in the THEMIS software, which enables real-time rapid analysis of breaching and overtopping scenarios

  • Inform the development of the Environment Agency’s Thames Estuary 2100 long term flood risk management strategy (TE2100), by modelling a wide range of future climate conditions and flood risk management responses.

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