Coastal flooding in Scotland: towards national-level hazard assessment

Tom Ball, Anton Edwards, Alan Werritty

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    This study investigated contributory factors to flood hazard around Scotland. There is a need to develop preliminary assessments of areas potentially vulnerable to flooding for compliance with the European Union Directive on the Assessment and Management of Flood Risks (2007/60/EC). Historical accounts of coastal flood events in Scotland, notably in a storm in January 2005, had shown that estimates of risk based on still water levels required further information to identify sites at which waves and surges could combine. Additionally, it was important to add the effect of future sea-level rise and other drivers from published sources. Analysis of multiple years’ tidal data at seven sites, including estuaries, compared recorded water levels at high-return periods to those derived from a spatially interpolated numerical model contained within a publicly available flood risk map. For gauges with the longest records, increases were seen over time that reflected rises in mean sea level. Exposure to wave energy was computed from prevailing wind strength and direction at 36 stations, related to wave fetch and incident wind direction. Although the highest wave exposure was at open coast locations exposed to the long Atlantic fetch, GIS analysis of coastal rasters identified other areas in or close to estuaries that also had high exposure. Projected sea-level change, when added to the surge and wave analyses, gives a spatially extensive structured variable flood risk assessment for future coastal flood hazard to complement the public flood risk map. Such tools can help fulfil the requirements of the EC Directive and may be a useful approach in other regions with high spatial variability in coastal flood risk related to exposure to waves and wind.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-20
    Number of pages20
    JournalNatural Hazards
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


    • Flooding
    • Coastal
    • Storm surge
    • Waves
    • GIS


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