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Towards new design rainfall profiles for the United Kingdom

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Roberto Villalobos Herrera, Dr Stephen Blenkinsop, Dr Selma GuerreiroORCiD, Professor Hayley Fowler



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Flood Risk Management published by Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The Flood Studies Report (FSR) summer and winter design profiles are a key component of rainfall design guidance in the United Kingdom (UK). We have examined the rainfall profiles of over 70,000 extreme rainfall events with the original FSR profile methodology. This analysis reveals that rainfall profiles change with rainstorm duration but not season, contradicting one of the key assumptions in current UK rainfall design guidance. By using a method that does not artificially generate symmetrical and centred profiles we show that profile shapes are highly variable and strongly related to event duration and magnitude. Short events tend towards front-loaded profiles, while heavy long-duration events tend towards centred profile shapes. Finally, manual, automatic and mixed methods of deriving new design profiles for use in the UK were trialled, with consistent results. These could be used to derive new design profiles to supersede the FSR profiles. Notably, peak intensities in observed profiles and trialled summary profiles often exceeded those found in both FSR profiles. We conclude that current design profile guidance for the UK fails to account for the observed variability in event profile shapes and peak intensities and may lead to significant under- or over-design of flood risk management solutions.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Villalobos Herrera R, Blenkinsop S, Guerreiro SB, Dale M, Faulkner D, Fowler HJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Flood Risk Management

Year: 2024

Volume: 176

Issue: 1

Print publication date: 01/03/2024

Online publication date: 25/10/2023

Acceptance date: 03/10/2023

Date deposited: 08/11/2023

ISSN (print): 1460-3799

ISSN (electronic): 1753-318X

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc.


DOI: 10.1111/jfr3.12958


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Funder referenceFunder name
NE/R01079X/1Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
NE/S017348/1Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
School of Engineering, Newcastle University
Universidad de Costa Rica