European Directory of Marine Environmental Data (EDMED)

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Data set name

A database of 100 years (1915-2014) of coastal flooding in the UK

Data holding centreBritish Oceanographic Data Centre
CountryUnited Kingdom  United Kingdom
Time period1915-2014
Geographical area

British Isles, Irish Sea, Bristol Channel, English Channel, North Sea, North Atlantic


Sea level


Sea level recorders


This database, and the accompanying website called ‘SurgeWatch’ (, provides a systematic UK-wide record of high sea level and coastal flood events over the last 100 years (1915-2014). Derived using records from the National Tide Gauge Network, a dataset of exceedence probabilities from the Environment Agency and meteorological fields from the 20th Century Reanalysis, the database captures information of 96 storm events that generated the highest sea levels around the UK since 1915. For each event, the database contains information about: (1) the storm that generated that event; (2) the sea levels recorded around the UK during the event; and (3) the occurrence and severity of coastal flooding as consequence of the event. The data are presented to be easily assessable and understandable to a wide range of interested parties. The database contains 100 files; four CSV files and 96 PDF files. Two CSV files contain the meteorological and sea level data for each of the 96 events. A third file contains the list of the top 20 largest skew surges at each of the 40 study tide gauge site. In the file containing the sea level and skew surge data, the tide gauge sites are numbered 1 to 40. A fourth accompanying CSV file lists, for reference, the site name and location (longitude and latitude). A description of the parameters in each of the four CSV files is given in the table below. There are also 96 separate PDF files containing the event commentaries. For each event these contain a concise narrative of the meteorological and sea level conditions experienced during the event, and a succinct description of the evidence available in support of coastal flooding, with a brief account of the recorded consequences to people and property. In addition, these contain graphical representation of the storm track and mean sea level pressure and wind fields at the time of maximum high water, the return period and skew surge magnitudes at sites around the UK, and a table of the date and time, offset return period, water level, predicted tide and skew surge for each site where the 1 in 5 year threshold was reached or exceeded for each event. A detailed description of how the database was created is given in Haigh et al. (2015). Coastal flooding caused by extreme sea levels can be devastating, with long-lasting and diverse consequences. The UK has a long history of severe coastal flooding. The recent 2013-14 winter in particular, produced a sequence of some of the worst coastal flooding the UK has experienced in the last 100 years. At present 2.5 million properties and £150 billion of assets are potentially exposed to coastal flooding. Yet despite these concerns, there is no formal, national framework in the UK to record flood severity and consequences and thus benefit an understanding of coastal flooding mechanisms and consequences. Without a systematic record of flood events, assessment of coastal flooding around the UK coast is limited. The database was created at the School of Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton with help from the Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton, the National Oceanography Centre and the British Oceanographic Data Centre. Collation of the database and the development of the website was funded through a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) impact acceleration grant. The database contributes to the objectives of UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) consortium project FLOOD Memory (EP/K013513/1).

OriginatorsUniversity of Southampton School of Ocean and Earth Science
Data web site
OrganisationBritish Oceanographic Data Centre
ContactPolly Hadžiabdić (Head of the BODC Requests Team)

British Oceanographic Data Centre
Joseph Proudman Building 6 Brownlow Street
L3 5DA
United Kingdom
Collating centreUniversity of Southampton School of Ocean and Earth Science
Local identifier1048_surgewatch
Global identifier6120
Last revised2015-01-13