Flood model scripts - RELU Understanding environmental knowledge controversies

This dataset consists of computer code transcripts for two proprietary flood risk models from a study as part of the NERC Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) programme. This project was conceived in order to address the public controversies generated by the risk management strategies and forecasting technologies associated with diffuse environmental problems such as flooding and pollution. Environmental issues play an ever-increasing role in all of our daily lives. However, controversies surrounding many of these issues, and confusion surrounding the way in which they are reported, mean that sectors of the public risk becoming increasingly disengaged. To try to reverse this trend and regain public trust and engagement, this project aimed to develop a new approach to interdisciplinary environmental science, involving non-scientists throughout the process. Examining the relationship between science and policy, and in particular how to engage the public with scientific research findings, a major diffuse environmental management issue was chosen as a focus - flooding. As part of this approach, non-scientists were recruited alongside the investigators in forming Competency Groups - an experiment in democratising science. The Competency Groups were composed of researchers and laypeople for whom flooding is a matter of particular concern. The groups worked together to share different perspectives - on why flooding is a problem, on the role of science in addressing the problem, and on new ways of doing science together. We aimed to achieve four substantive contributions to knowledge: 1. To analyse how the knowledge claims and modelling technologies of hydrological science are developed and put into practice by policy makers and commercial organisations (such as insurance companies) in flood risk management. 2. To develop an integrated model for forecasting the in-river and floodplain effects of rural land management practices. 3. To experiment with a new approach to public engagement in the production of interdisciplinary environmental science, involving the use of Competency Groups. 4. To evaluate this new approach to doing public science differently and to identify lessons learnt that can be exported beyond this particular project to other fields of knowledge controversy. This dataset consists of computer code transcripts for two proprietary flood risk models. Flood risk and modelling interview transcripts from this study are available at the UK Data Archive under study number 6620 (see online resources). Further documentation for this study may be found through the RELU Knowledge Portal and the project's ESRC funding award web page (see online resources).

Publication date: 2008-09-30


Study area
Temporal extent
2005-03-01    to    2007-06-30

Provenance & quality

Research funded by Economic and Social Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Award Number: RES-224-26-0041 Development of two new models was undertaken with the basic aim of estimating the effects of rural land management measures upon downstream flood risk in two separate case studies; Pickering ('bunding' model) and Uckfield ('overflow' model). The focus of these modelling approaches was on harnessing a greater depth of the information available to the modeller than perhaps traditionally used. In addition, the model development process was steered by Competency Groups in each respective area. This collaborative process drew on three identifiable knowledge sources: 1. experiential, as held by both academics and local members of the CGs 2. theoretical and encoded to the ways in which we tend to see the world as Newtonian (e.g. flood water has to go somewhere; it must conserve mass) 3 data-based, in terms of the records of rainfall and water level that we had obtained and which were used to develop and to test assumptions The two models developed were specifically tailored to the regional flooding problem by the innovative development process.


This model code is included in the following collections

Rural economy and land use programme (RELU)

Supplemental information

Correspondence/contact details

Gillian Willis
University of Oxford
Oxford University Centre for the Environment, School of Geography and the Environment


Whatmore, S.
University of Oxford

Other contacts

NERC EDS Environmental Information Data Centre
NERC Environmental Information Data Centre
Stuart Lane
Durham University
Rights Holder
University of Oxford

Additional metadata

Topic categories
Environment , Inland Waters
2007-2010,  Academic personnel,  Environmental engineering,  Environmental management,  Environmental policy,  Floods,  Land drainage,  Malton,  Modelling,  North yorkshire,  Pickering,  Public opinion,  Rural Economy and Land Use Programme,  Rural planning,  Ryedale (district),  Science policy,  Specialists,  Specialization,  Understanding Environmental Knowledge Controversies: the Case for Flood Risk Management
RELU Award: RES-227-25-0018
Spatial reference system
WGS 84
Last updated
25 June 2021 18:47