09 October 2014 (Reference: 8-14)
Marine and coastal communities in the South West of England and Wales will benefit from improved flood forecasting, with the introduction of two new wave monitoring buoys (see photo), located off the Isles of Scilly and West Pembrokeshire.
Following a review of the winter floods the need for two new wave observation buoys was identified by flood forecasters from the Environment Agency (EA) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW). This increases the strategic wave monitoring network specifically deployed for flood forecasting from 13 to 15 monitoring buoys.
Cefas have taken the lead in helping both organisations assess locations and prepare for the operational deployment of the new buoys. Funding for the new buoys was made available from UK government's flood recovery fund.
Discussions with the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales identified optimum locations for two new buoys (see figure 1). The West Pembrokeshire buoy was laid and activated on 11 September and the Isles of Scilly buoy goes live on 11th October.
Cefas' WaveNet programme collects and processes data from its network of monitoring buoys, tethered at strategic locations around the UK coastline. A combination of government and private industry-funded sites covering UK coastal waters provide near-real time measurements of wave heights. WaveNet is operated and maintained by Cefas who work in partnership with the UK flood forecasting authorities; Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Rivers Agency Northern Ireland.
Cefas and the national flood forecasting authorities work together with Met Office, National Oceanography Centre and British Oceanographic Data Centre through a UK Coastal Monitoring and Forecasting (UKCMF) partnership to develop and maintain the UK wide coastal flood forecasting capabilities.
Dr. David Pearce, Cefas Project Manager for WaveNet said: "Expansion of Cefas' WaveNet network will help improve the UK's flood forecasting and early warning infrastructure for the benefit of coastal communities in England and Wales. The 15 monitoring sites, when combined with near-real time data made available by other publically-funded programmes and industry partners, provide comprehensive coverage of the wave climate around the UK."
Neil Ryan, senior flood forecaster at the Environment Agency said: "These new wave buoys provide flood forecasters in the Environment Agency with an improved real time understanding of sea conditions around the south coast of Cornwall. This will help us provide better advice, guidance and warnings to communities and emergency responders about imminent coastal flood risk."
Andy Wall, Flood Risk Manager from Natural Resources Wales, said:
"Earlier this year communities around Wales were hit by a combination of devastating storms and high tides which flooded hundreds of homes and caused millions of pounds of damage. We and our partners have been investing in repairing and improving defences around the coast, but also increasing our capacity to forecast and warn people and the emergency services of coastal flood risk.
The new buoy off the Pembrokeshire coast will add to that capability. We will be able to receive the data in real time into our incident rooms and use it, along with our forecasts, to improve the timeliness and accuracy of our warnings. This will mean we can give people the time they need to prepare themselves and their homes if the worst was to happen.
We are pleased to be working in partnership with other government agencies across the UK to deliver improvements to services in Wales, whilst at the same time making efficient use of government funding."
Near-real time wave data and wave forecasts for the next 24 hours are freely available to the general public on the WaveNet website (www.cefas.defra.gov.uk/wavenet). During last winter's storms, the WaveNet website was a key source of up-to-date information on wave conditions to marine and coastal communities, and received up to 5,000 hits per day (see figure 2, a snapshot of the extreme wave conditions observed off SW England during February 2014).
Figure 1. The locations of two new strategic Waverider buoys for the WaveNet network.
Figure 2. A snapshot of the extreme wave conditions observed off SW England during February 2014
1. Cefas is the UK's leading and most diverse centre for applied marine and freshwater science. We advise UK government and private sector customers on the environmental impact of their policies, programmes and activities through our marine evidence and impartial expert advice. Our environmental monitoring and assessment programmes are fundamental to the sustainable development of marine and freshwater industries.
2. Cefas' WaveNet programme has been in operation since 2002. It collects and processes data from its Datawell Directional Waverider buoys, tethered at strategic locations around the UK coastline. Cefas sends the wave data to the Met Office in support of their wave and tidal surge model, which the UKCMF uses to inform others of potential storms and flooding.
3. Should you require further information about the WaveNet network or wish to complement the existing network with additional wave data acquired using suitable platforms, please contact Dr. David Pearce on email@example.com.
4. EA is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. We work to create better places for people and wildlife, and support sustainable development. We are also responsible for managing the risk of flooding from main rivers, reservoirs, estuaries and the sea. For more information about flood forecasting in England please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Natural Resources Wales is a Welsh Government Sponsored Body. Its purpose is to ensure that the natural resources of Wales are sustainably maintained, enhanced and used, now and in the future. It is the lead organisation in Wales on flooding, issuing flood warnings, building and maintaining flood defences and advising the Welsh Government. For more information www.naturalresourceswales.gov.uk
6. For further information about UK Coast Monitoring and Forecasting (UKCMF) contact Neil.Ryan@environment-agency.gov.uk