Project in Chile

Hydro-GIS Ltd has been working as part of a team of experts to look at the risk of tailing dam failure in Chile. Our input has included to application of a dam breach model to identify the potential risk to downstream areas and using rainfall runoff modelling to identify the risk of dam failure caused by overtopping.

The Use of Drones for Flood Mapping


Hydro-GIS Ltd worked together with researchers from the Open University in a pilot study to test using a drone for mapping flood extents.

The approach has a number of potential applications such as demonstrating flood extents in areas where EA flood maps are inaccurate, which is particularly common for small streams, and to assist insurance companies in estimating losses and dealing with bogus claims. The study however found a number of limitations including the logistics of mobilising the drone to capture the full flood extent, legal restrictions on the routes which can be flown, problems with drone battery life, and problems with software used to process images and generate the high resolution digital terrain models.

On the positive side however we have maintained our link with the Open University and have access to use the drone for further detailed mapping studies. Please contact Dr Harvey Rodda for more details here.

The full report can be accessed here.

UCL Dissertations

Through his role at UCL Dr Harvey Rodda has been supervising four MSc dissertations on storm surges along the English Channel coast, the risk of dam breach flooding in the PeaK District National Park, flash flood risk in Chile, and the relationship between drought periods in Southern Spain and the North Atlantic Oscillation.

Flooding and Insurance in the UK

The recent implementation of Flood Re to guarantee flood cover for households in the UK has led to an increased interest in the flood risk to insurance company portfolios. Hydro-GIS Ltd were engaged by Axa Art to undertake hydrological field surveys to provide a detailed assessment of the flood risk at six sites which had been flagged up as having the highest risk of the whole portfolio when using a desk-based classification with standard “off the shelf flood” risk mapping products.

The surveys identified that only one of the sites remained at high risk and three were considered a moderate risk given they had experienced some flooding in the past but had since included flood alleviation measures. Of the two remaining sites identified by the surveys as low risk, one was located halfway up a hillside some 50m in altitude above the small stream to which the flood risk at the site would be attributed.

This highlights the potential degree of inaccuracy from the desk based risk mapping products and the benefit of field surveys to give a fuller assessment of flood risk.

New hydrology textbook


Dr Harvey Rodda has recently co-authored a hydrology textbook with Dr Max Little from the Department of Engineering and Applied Science, Aston University. The aim is to provide assistance to hydrology students and practitioners with some of the more complicated mathematical aspects of the subject. The book is available as an e-book as well as in print.

Rose Wood

It is with great sadness that we have to report the death of Dr Rose Wood, our principal oceanographer from 2005 – 2014. Rose started at Hydro-GIS Ltd to lead the development of a coastal flood catastrophe model for Norway and then continued working on a large number of projects including further coastal work on the German North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts and the Lyth Valley in Cumbria. She also developed a web-based search facility for the British Rainfall Digital Archive and assisted with many river flood modelling and sediment modelling projects in the UK, Asia, the Middle East and North America.  In 2014 Rose planned a career change in order to become a maths teacher and started a PGCE at Oxford University. Partly through the course Rose was diagnosed with brain cancer and despite battling through an operation and extensive follow-on treatment, she died peacefully at home in September 2015.

Rose studied at Immanuel College, Cambridge and Exeter University and then undertook a post-doc at McGill University, Montreal. She spent 13 years working at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory before moving to Namibia with her family for a few years.

Her experience, skills in modelling, numerical analysis and programming were of the highest quality. We will miss her not only as a colleague but also as a friend.




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New publication

A new book by Wiley Blackwell, entitled Progress in Modern Hydrology:Past, Present and Future has been co-edited by  John C Rodda and Mark Robinson. The volume marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the NERC and represents a wide range of hydrological research undertaken by past and present researchers at Wallingford.

UK Historical Extreme Rainfall Archive now available

The British Rainfall Digital Archive GIS link is available to purchase from Hydro-GIS Ltd. This is an ArcGIS interface to enable a spatial search of the archive for the Thames basin and to gain easy access to over 28,000 extreme rainfall measurements, 1000 pages of text including eye-witness accounts and over 250 rainfall maps. Licencing costs £300 for academic research and £500 for commercial organisations.

British Rainfall Digital Archive GIS Link

Groundwater flooding

Following the record rainfall over December 2013-February 2014, Hydro-GIS Ltd is involved in groundwater flooding projects looking at designing flood alleviation schemes, undertaking flood risk assessments for insurance claims and expert witness work for legal cases. In addition Dr Harvey Rodda is supervising an MSc dissertation at UCL  looking at developing groundwater flood risk maps for Hampshire.