A NERC-funded project is designed to maximise the impact of UK research on drought and water scarcity, and to engage diverse stakeholders and publics with the outputs from the UK Droughts and Water Scarcity Programme – among other ways, via the About Drought website. Droughts and water scarcity jointly pose a substantial threat to the environment, agriculture, infrastructure, society and culture in the UK, yet our ability to characterise and predict their occurrence, duration and intensity, as well as minimise their impacts, is often inadequate.

SCU is involved in producing guidance and advice for stakeholders in five sectors:

  • The water supply sector: public water supply companies and umbrella organisations like Water UK and UKWIR; regulators charged with security-of-supply (Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Natural Resources Wales) and economic regulation (OFWAT); and policymakers (Defra and devolved administrations).
  • The agricultural sector: embracing farmers, growers, processing and supply chains, represented through the individual farmers as well as organisations such as the National Farmers Union, UK Irrigation Associations, and Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.
  • Environmental stakeholders: stakeholders charged with environmental protection or regulation (e.g. Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Natural Resources Wales, Natural England), alongside conservation groups such as Rivers Trusts.
  • UK business: including stakeholders undertaking a wide range of commercial activities, who may be concerned with DWS owing to significant dependence on water for abstraction. This includes commercial and industrial water users (from large companies to SMEs), the energy industry, as well as insurers.
  • UK communities: wider publics and different groups defined by demographics, ethnicity etc. and those organisations that support them in resilience planning.

The UK Droughts & Water Scarcity research programme is a five-year interdisciplinary, £12 million+ NERC programme in collaboration with ESRC, EPSRC, BBSRC and AHRC. It is supporting improved decision-making in relation to droughts and water scarcity by providing research that identifies, predicts and responds to the interrelationships between their multiple drivers and impacts. Four projects are funded under the UK Droughts & Water Scarcity programme:

  • Historic Droughts : Understanding past drought episodes to develop improved tools for the future
  • IMPETUS : Improving predictions of drought To inform user decisions
  • MaRIUS : Managing the risks, impacts and uncertainties of drought and water scarcity
  • DRY : Drought risk and you

This final phase of the programme (About Drought/ENDOWS) builds on the co-ordinated work of the four research projects, providing increased stakeholder and public accessibility to all the outputs of the UK Droughts & Water Scarcity programme.

SCU is also investigating how to communicate science about the impacts of droughts and water scarcity in the UK environment in the most appropriate ways. For more information about SCU’s work on this project, contact Emma Weitkamp, Ruth Larbey or Nicky Shale.

Follow us on X (formerly Twitter): @AboutDrought