Hydrological Outlook UK – forecasting groundwater levels and river flows in the coming months

Dry river, Salisbury

Working with partners, we have developed a forecast for river flows and groundwater levels over the coming months — Hydrological Outlook UK.

The outlook will be published monthly and focus on conditions over the coming three months, but also looks further into the future.

Forecasts of this type are already produced on an operational basis in number of countries, for example, the USA and Australia.

The project has involved bringing together information on current and forecast weather conditions, soil moisture, river flows and groundwater levels, and uses a number of modelling methods to explore possible future hydrological conditions. The work has also inspired other modelling approaches and prompted new lines of scientific research.

Groundwater level forecasting

The BGS contribution has been to use 25 groundwater models developed to forecast groundwater levels over the coming three months across the UK.

The models are driven using a number of possible future climate scenarios (an ensemble) produced by the UK Met Office. This allows us to produce a probabilistic forecast of groundwater levels for either one or three months into the future.

By analysing the model simulations, we are able to determine the likely change in groundwater levels across most of the principal aquifers in the UK with the summarised results incorporated in Hydrological Outlook UK on a monthly basis.

Hydrological Outlook UK partners

The BGS produces the Hydrological Outlook UK in partnership with:


Contact Dr John Bloomfield for further information