Join us for the Loddon Observatory Showcase 2018

We are hosting the Loddon Observatory Showcase 2018 on 25 September from 12:30 to 4:00pm. This is an opportunity to meet people, learn and share information about ongoing projects in the Loddon catchment around the integrated themes of Water, Environment, Food, Climate, Governance and Heritage with Reading University staff and students and External Partners. Anyone and everyone with an interest is welcome to join as a presenter or participant.

  • 12:30-14:30: Networking and poster lunch. Poster abstracts invited.
  • 14:30-15:00: 3-5min ‘madness’ presentations. Abstracts invited.
  • 15:00-16:00: Oral presentations. Abstracts invited.

NB: For abstracts, we are asking for a short summary 100-150 words that outlines the work and will be included in the Showcase Programme.

Registration is Free and open until 14 September.  Lunch included. Parking is available.

Eventbrite - Loddon Showcase

Posters and networking session will include:

  • Chance to see and talk with the people behind some amazing projects carried out by Research Staff, Loddon Catchment Consultancy and Dissertation Students
  • Pop up display of historic images and information from MERL archives in and around the Loddon catchment area
  • Your chance to contribute to the development of the Loddon Observatory Research Strategy and shape what we work on for the next 5-10 years

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Anne Verhoef (Geography & Environmental Science, University of Reading), on monitoring and prediction of pasture quality and productivity from satellites, a project undertaken at the University’s Shinfield Farm.
  • Jessica Ponting (Geography & Environmental Science, University of Reading), on her PhD project investigating the fate of potentially toxic elements in periodically flooded soils at the Loddon Floodplain Platform.
  • Alister Leggatt (Affinity Water) and Amanda Ingham (Arcadian Farm Advice) on their Payment for Ecosystem Services project, developed to incentivise farmers as producers of clean water in catchments at risk of diffuse pollution upstream of drinking water pumping stations.

Using our LANDWISEly for flood risk management

After recent large flood events, Natural Flood Management (NFM) has emerged over the last decade as a useful and sustainable alternative or complement to more traditional hard engineering solutions to reduce flood risk. Embanking, dredging and concreting rivers, while ignoring runoff-enhancing practices further upstream, can be a short-sighted and often counter-productive approach to flood management. Hard defences have also been associated with a degradation of the river ecosystem and negative impacts on fisheries, biodiversity, water quality and the aesthetical values of what could be described as the veins of the landscape.

NFM involves the adoption of a multitude of small-scale measures that mitigate flooding by restoring or enhancing natural processes in upstream catchment areas to slow the flow of water to reduce peaks in river flow that can cause serious flooding. NFM measures include woodland plantation, the creation of leaky dams and woody debris in small headwater streams, the creation of ponds and restoration of wetlands, the restoration of rivers to a more natural planform and floodplain connectivity, the use of green roofs, pervious pavements and other sustainable urban drainage systems in cities, etc. NFM measures also have potential to deliver multiple benefits in terms of water quality, soil conservation, biodiversity and amenity.

However, there is still limited quantitative evidence on the efficacy of NFM, particularly during the largest flood events. This is particularly the case for measures aiming to enhance infiltration, increase below ground storage, and reduce runoff production long before the water even reaches watercourses, such as soil decompaction methods, cover crops, novel crop rotations, no till arable systems, enhancement of the soil organic matter, hedges, buffer strips, etc.

LANDWISE (LAND Management in lowland catchments for Integrated flood riSk rEduction) is a new research project, led by the University of Reading (UoR) in collaboration with a number of other research institutions and project partners, which will precisely investigate the efficacy of land-based NFM measures to deliver catchment-scale reduction in flood risk.

The project will work at several nested spatial scales within the Thames basin. The Loddon Catchment is one of the three catchments where work will be particularly focussed.

The project has been designed in close collaboration with local stakeholders within the Loddon catchment, and more widely, within the West Thames basin: a number of individual farmers, the Loddon Farm Advice Project, NFU, FWAG, the National Trust, Affinity Water, Local Flood Resilience Groups and Residents Associations, local planning authorities, etc.  Input into the research design, delivery and evaluation by local people and organisations helps to keep the research relevant to those who manage and own land.

Over the next four years, the project will work with volunteering farmers and landowners to:

  • Understand what NFM measures could be realistically delivered now and in future within the Loddon catchment, using surveys, interviews and workshops;
  • Measure the soil properties and water movements (infiltration and/or evaporative losses) in fields where innovative land management is being practiced, and compare these with fields that are managed in a more traditional way.

If you are interested in learning more about LANDWISE, in participating to surveys and workshops, and/or in having measurements being taken from your fields with no disturbance to your current farming practices, please get in touch with Dr Joanna Clark, University of Reading (email: j.m.clark@reading.ac.uk).  For more information, please see the project web site (landwise-nfm.org) and Twitter (@NERC_NFM).

Flooding: is it all water under the bridge? Pint of Science talks at the Best Western Plus Reading Moat House, Sindlesham – 16th May 2018

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Pint of Science is coming to Reading for the first time this year, bringing new and exciting science to your local pub! During this event (taking place from Monday 14th to Wednesday 16th May 2018, in the evening), talks will be given by Reading University researchers, covering 3 main themes: Beautiful Mind, Our Body and Planet Earth. Each theme will run in parallel and take place in different venues.

As part of the Planet Earth theme, an evening on flood related talks will be hosted on 16th May from 7:30PM to 9:30PM (doors open at 7:00PM) in the Best Western Plus Reading Moat House at Sindlesham, a venue full of flood history.

Researchers from the University of Reading will take you on a journey down the river, from large scale atmospheric events to the flooding on your doorstep. The talks will give you an insight into the science of flood prediction, risk and people’s reaction to it, and will highlight some natural flood management solutions. In a venue full of flood history, you will find out why (the science of) flooding is not all water under the bridge!

More information can be found on the Pint of Science website.

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Here’s a summary of the talks:

If I told you your home would flood next winter, would you believe me?

Predicting whether a flood will occur in the next few days is challenging. So how about predicting a flood months in advance?! Impossible? Not quite. Challenging? Definitely! Yet, the stakes are high, as this would give us more time to better prepare for these events and reduce their damage. During this talk, I will discuss how changes in and interactions between the atmosphere, oceans and on land can help us predict river levels months in advance.

Holding back the water with soil, grass and trees: Could natural flood management work?

Dr Joanna Clark (Associate Professor of Environmental Science & Director of the Loddon Observatory)
@JoClarkUoR
We can’t stop the rain, but we can influence how and where water is stored and moves through our natural and urban landscapes. How we use and manage land upstream can either increase or decrease the risk of flooding downstream. In this talk, we will explore how different trees, crops and soil management techniques could enhance the ability of large areas of land upstream to store water below ground; whilst also producing food, drinking water and supporting biodiversity. We will consider what we can all do to help, from small allotment to large country estate. We are all catchment managers.

To dredge or not to dredge: Politics or Flood Risk Management Solution?

Phiala Mehring (Trustee of the National Flood Forum, Chair of the Loddon Valley Residents Association & PhD Student)
@PhialaM
How would you set about managing flooding? Dredge the river? Put up large flood defences? How effective would these be? A flood is water in the wrong place, well where ‘we’ deem is the wrong place. The problem is that when that ‘wrong place’ is someone’s lounge. Then it has serious negative consequences. It impacts their life, livelihood, health/welfare for years. Flooding seriously damages the quality of life for those it impacts. So, is a single action; a wall, dredging the river the solution or a political ploy to damped down (pun intended) the furore that comes with a large flood event?