Rainfall research to aid flood control
Researchers at the University of Essex, working with partners in Italy, Germany, Denmark and other UK organisations, have discovered a new method of measuring rainfall that could help to improve flood control. The recent floods that devastated much of Central Europe have highlighted the need for accurate rainfall forecasting. The new technique, which uses dual-frequency microwave links, will now be tested in the Irwell Valley in NW England, in the mountains of Italy, and in the Ruhr region of Germany as part of the MANTISSA project, funded under the EU's Fifth Framework Programme. Accurate measurements of rainfall are essential for the process of forecasting. As Professor Anthony Holt of the University of Essex explains 'Large computer programmes which run weather predictions every six or 12 hours rely for their output on the accuracy of input information, which includes rainfall.' It is hoped that, when used to complement the traditional rain gauge and radar methods, microwave links will help to provide more accurate hydrological forecasts than ever. Initial studies in England have produced very encouraging results, and it is thought that the method will prove to be particularly useful in urban areas.