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Brunel's engineering experts warn of flooding following September heatwave

(c) IMechE

Brunel’s engineering experts have warned about the risk of flooding and the urgent need to adapt our world to cope with climate change during an international conference on our world’s greatest challenge.

On Friday 8 September, engineers from around the world gathered at Brunel University London for the final day of the first International Conference and Workshop on Climate Adaptation and Resilience.

The three-day conference was led by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers – IMechE, for engineers to discuss their response to climate change as well as the necessary adaptations and coping strategies.

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Prof Trevor Hoey, Brunel’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for International and Sustainability, speaking at the conference

The inaugural conference was co-organised by Dr Carola Koenig from Brunel's Centre for Flood Risk and Resilience, together with HR Wallingford – a water research centre that co-delivers Brunel’s Flood and Coastal Engineering programmes.

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Dr Carola Koenig, Brunel’s Vice Dean International in the College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences

Commenting after the conference, Dr Koenig said: “Poignantly, the 1st International Conference and Workshop on Climate Adaptation and Resilience took place in an unprecedented heatwave in the UK, with seven consecutive days exceeding temperatures of 30°C.

"At the same time, heavy rainfall in Thessaly, Greece, turned streams into raging torrents, causing burst dams, roads and bridges to be washed away, as well as cars being carried into the sea.

"Extreme weather events really hammer home the urgent need to adapt our world to cope with climate change and to increase our capacity for adaptation to drive climate resilience."

Prof Trevor Hoey – Brunel’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for International and Sustainability and Professor of River Science – was a keynote speaker at the conference and gave a strong warning about the need to understand all of the ways in which rivers cause flood hazards in a changing climate.

He also warns about the potential risk of flooding in the coming months or even next year. “The same ocean and atmospheric conditions that produced this month’s heatwave will contribute to intense storms and weather systems in the coming months, with an immediate risk of localised flooding where rain falls onto ground dried by the late summer heat,” said Prof Hoey.

One of the aims of the conference was to facilitate networking opportunities and forge new research partnerships. Daily workshops allowed delegates to identify key knowledge and research gaps and provided opportunities for them to discuss new research collaborations on innovative climate-focused projects.

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Left to right: Prof Trevor Hoey facilitating a panel discussion with conference chair Dr Tim Fox
and co-chairs Dr Carola Koenig and Prof Devanathan Parthasarathy, from the Indian Institute of Technology.

“Throughout the conference, we ventured into social science, education and areas that none of us were experts in. We recognised that for future conversations, we need to bring some of that expertise into the room, and as the younger generation come into the field, hopefully they will bring some of that multidisciplinary, multi-faceted thinking with them,” said Prof Hoey.

“The challenge that we all have is to make sure that we have all the right conversations with all the right people. We can then start to think about the balance with technical solutions, regulatory solutions, behavioural solutions and how we make all of those things work to address climate change problems.”

Reported by:

Nadine Palmer, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 267090