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Flooding destroys lives. Every year it kills thousands of people around the world, and affects millions more – devastating homes, businesses and livelihoods.

Hannah is interested in developing techniques to help us prepare better for flooding by improving forecasting. Her research saves lives through improved early warning systems in flood-prone parts of the world, and reduces the impact of flooding on businesses.

“My Dad was a geography teacher and my uncle is a professor of human geography. I spent my early years admiring glacial features on holidays in the Lake District whilst at the same time considering the impacts of poverty, homelessness and divides in our society.

"Geography is all about both perspectives  – the physical and the social understanding of our planet and its people. You can't understand one without the other. This is why I apply the latest science to help people prepare for floods.”

Billions in damage

Hannah first started working on flood prevention after the 2002 European floods, when over a week of continuous heavy rains ravaged Europe, killing dozens, dispossessing thousands, and causing billions of euros worth of damage.

This was part of the inspiration behind Hannah's work as Research Associate at the European Commission Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy, developing an early warning system to prevent this scale of disaster happening again – you can't stop floods, but you can prepare for them. The work she did there has grown ever since.

Real world impact

Now Hannah advises the UK government on flood response and preparing for national and international flooding incidents. She developed techniques that were put to use in Uganda, where the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement were able to deliver aid to 5,000 people before roads and other lines of communication were cut by floodwater.

“This work has had a real impact in that we are now better prepared for floods, and as we take these techniques forward, we could reduce flood risk to people across the world.”

Research that feeds into teaching

Hannah's work feeds directly into your studies, with modules covering current and recent floods in the UK, a forecasting exercise, and representatives from external organisations coming to campus to talk with students.

The University has provided students with opportunities to network with leading employers such as the Environment Agency, Met Office, Scottish Flood Forecasting Service, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and Red Cross Climate Centre to help you find the career that's right for you.

You could study flooding during one of our field courses, or you could tackle the subject in more depth with your dissertation.

Professor Hannah Cloke OBE

Hannah received an OBE after being named on the 2019 Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to flood forecasting and the development of hazard early warning systems.

Get involved

Hannah's research has been crucial in helping to develop a system that will help to forecast floods accurately, almost anywhere in the world. It has the potential to save thousands of lives. And you can be part of this.

Find out more about our undergraduate teaching