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Keywords:

  • Appraisal;
  • climate extremes;
  • floods;
  • groundwater

Abstract

The protracted and widespread flooding, which was experienced across much of the UK during the autumn and winter of 2000–01, was the most severe since 1947. Catchments remained saturated for lengthy periods and the high flow regimes of many rivers were significantly redefined. There is no modern parallel to the magnitude of groundwater replenishment over the 2000–01 winter recharge season, and groundwater flooding was exceptionally protracted in the English lowlands. This paper examines the synoptic background to an extremely wet episode and uses a hydrological framework to document the magnitude, duration and extent of a flood episode outside the previous experience of the greater part of the population of England and Wales.