Knowledge of, and response to, upland flash flooding : a case study of flood risk management of the 2005 flash flood in upper Ryedale, North Yorkshire, U.K
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The dangerous hazard posed by flash flooding to upland communities is likely to increase due to climate change. The flood risk management policy approach has become predominant since the 1990s, with an emphasis on the public awareness of, and responses to, flood risks; however, the unpredictable nature of upland flash flooding means that responses to such hazards are uncertain. This thesis uses an integrated analysis of social and physical science datasets to study responses by local residents and the Environment Agency to flash flooding, using a case study of a major upland flood in North Yorkshire. Responses to flash flooding within upland communities were found to be mostly present as changes to individual behaviour and awareness. However, physical, damage reducing modifications were limited. Flash flood hazard perception was found to be linked to knowledge and experience of local flooding. Major flash flood events occurring in areas which have not experienced other recent floods are unlikely to increase perceptions or provoke responses. Although local awareness of changing weather patterns was found, supporting analyses of rainfall records, local flood risks were frequently framed in the context of river management, rather than climate change. The implementation of policy changes and responses to flash flooding by the Environment Agency will prove difficult at the local level, due to the nature of attitudes and perceptions encountered at the local level, including important differences in the perception of the flash flood hazard between local residents and representatives from nationwide organisations. Encouraging property-level modifications following flash floods, in accordance with national policies, is very difficult. In order to increase local perceptions of the flash flood hazard, the use of participatory work, focusing on long-term awareness raising and the sharing of locally held flood knowledge may be beneficial, alongside the support of existing resilience in upland communities.