Hydrological Yearbooks

From 1981 to 1995 the NRFA published annual Yearbooks as part of the Hydrological Data UK series, bringing together the principal datasets relating to river flows, groundwater levels and areal rainfall throughout the UK and featuring a comprehensive hydrological review of the year. Also included in the editions for 1986-95 are water quality data for a representative selection of river basins throughout Britain. Publication of the Yearbooks in the Hydrological Data UK series was discontinued following the 1995 edition. Hard copies of Yearbooks are available from the National River Flow Archive, though a few editions are out of print: Contact the NRFA

Published Yearbooks

Hydrological data United Kingdom 1995 Yearbook: an account of rainfall, river flows, groundwater levels and river water quality January to December 1995

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Hydrological data United Kingdom 1994 Yearbook: an account of rainfall, river flows, groundwater levels and river water quality January to December 1994

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Hydrological data United Kingdom 1993 Yearbook: an account of rainfall, river flows, groundwater levels and river water quality January to December 1993

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Hydrological data United Kingdom 1992 Yearbook: an account of rainfall, river flows, groundwater levels and river water quality January to December 1992

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Hydrological data United Kingdom 1991 Yearbook: an account of rainfall, river flows, groundwater levels and river water quality January to December 1991

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Hydrological data United Kingdom 1990 Yearbook: an account of rainfall, river flows, groundwater levels and river water quality January to December 1990

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Hydrological data United Kingdom 1989 Yearbook: an account of rainfall, river flows, groundwater levels and river water quality January to December 1989

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Hydrological data United Kingdom 1988 Yearbook: an account of rainfall, river flows, groundwater levels and river water quality January to December 1988

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Hydrological data United Kingdom 1987 Yearbook: an account of rainfall, river flows, groundwater levels and river water quality January to December 1987

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Hydrological data United Kingdom 1986 Yearbook: an account of rainfall, river flows, groundwater levels and river water quality January to December 1986

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Hydrological data United Kingdom 1985 Yearbook: an account of rainfall, river flows and groundwater levels January to December 1985

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Hydrological data United Kingdom 1984 Yearbook: an account of rainfall, river flows and groundwater levels January to December 1984

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Hydrological data United Kingdom 1983 Yearbook: an account of rainfall, river flows and groundwater levels January to December 1983

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Hydrological data United Kingdom 1982 Yearbook: an account of rainfall, river flows and groundwater levels January to December 1982

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Hydrological data United Kingdom 1981 Yearbook: an account of rainfall, river flows and groundwater levels January to December 1981

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A History of the Hydrological Yearbooks 

Publication of river flow data for Great Britain started with the series of Surface Water Yearbooks. The first edition, which was published in 1938 for the water-year (October-September) 1935-36, also included selected data for the previous fifteen years; the edition for 1936-37 followed in 1939. Both these publications were prepared under the direction of the Inland Water Survey Committee. Assisted by the Scottish Office, the Committee continued to publish hydrological data after the Second World War; the Yearbook for the period 1937-45 was published as a single volume in 1952. Due to economic stringency, the Survey was suspended in 1952 for a period of two years but was then re-formed as the Surface Water Survey Centre of Great Britain. A Yearbook covering the years 1945-53 was published in 1955.

In 1964 the Survey was transferred to the Water Resources Board where it remained until the Board was disbanded in 1974. The work of collecting and publishing surface water information in England and Wales then passed to the newly created Water Data Unit of the Department of the Environment (DoE). Yearbooks were published jointly each year by these organisations and the Scottish Office for the water years 1953-54 to 1965-66; thereafter information for the five calendar years 1966 to 1970 was published in one volume in 1974. Subsequent editions were renamed `Surface Water: United Kingdom' to mark the inclusion of the first records from Northern Ireland and in recognition of the move away from single year volumes. Two volumes of Surface Water: United Kingdom, covering the years 1971-73 and 1974-76 were published jointly by the Water Data Unit, the Scottish Development Department (thence The Scottish Office Environment Department) and the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland.

Following the transfer of the Surface Water Archive to the NERC in 1982, the final edition of Surface Water: United Kingdom, for the years 1977-80, was prepared by the Institute of Hydrology at the request of the Water Directorate of the Department of the Environment, and published in 1983. The 1981 and 1982 Yearbooks were prepared concurrently and were, in 1985, the first Yearbooks published in the Hydrological data UK series. Further Yearbooks - the editions for 1983 to 1995 - were published over the following 11 years. 

Responsibility for the publication of data upon which assessments of water resources in England and Wales may be made, was transferred (under the Water Act 1989) from the Department of the Environment (thence the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions - DETR) to the National Rivers Authority (now the Environment Agency). Part of this responsibility continued to be discharged through the publication of the Yearbook series. Water quality data - a selection from the Harmonised Monitoring Scheme Archive - were published in each Yearbook from 1986 to 1995; responsibility for the maintenance of the Harmonised Monitoring database was transferred from the DETR to the Environment Agency in 1998.

A compilation of `Groundwater levels in England during 1963' which was produced by the Geological Survey of Great Britain (prior to its incorporation into the Institute of Geological Sciences), was the precursor to the publication of groundwater level data on a national basis. The more formal Groundwater Yearbook series was instigated by the Water Resources Board which published the inaugural edition, for 1964-66, and a further volume for 1967, both covering England and Wales. In 1975 a third Yearbook, for 1968-70, was published by the Water Data Unit. The Groundwater: United Kingdom series was introduced in 1978 with the production of the 1971-73 volume, also published by the Water Data Unit.

Following the transfer of the Groundwater Archive to the Institute of Geological Sciences (now the British Geological Survey), the second edition of Groundwater: United Kingdom, covering the period 1974-80, was prepared by the Institute of Hydrology at the request of the Water Directorate of the Department of the Environment. Subsequently, groundwater level data were included in the Hydrological data UK publications. 

Publication of the Yearbooks in the Hydrological Data UK series was discontinued following the 1995 edition when the primary dissemination mechanism for river flow data became the National River Flow Archive retrieval service which has subsequently become largely web-based. The commentaries on hydrological conditions incorporated in the Hydrological Data UK Yearbooks have been superseded by the broader range of material published under the aegis of the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme.

Yearbook Feature Articles

Some of the feature articles, relating to significant hydrological events or issues, from the earlier Yearbooks have been digitised. The articles are listed below.

YearbookArticleAuthorDownload
1983Flow Gauging on the River Thames - the First 100 YearsA.E. JonesPDF [0.7MB]
1985Inland Water Surveying in the United Kingdom - A Short History M.L. LeesPDF [1.2MB]
1985The McClean Hydrometric Data Collection A. WerrittyPDF [0.4MB]
1986The Acquisition and Archiving of River Flow Data - Past and Present T.J. MarshPDF [1.3MB]
1987The October 1987 Flood on the River Tywi J.R. Frost and E.C. JonesPDF [0.7MB]
1988Hydrological Analysis of the Truro floods of January and October 1988 M.C. AcremanPDF [0.5MB]
1989The 1988/89 Drought - A Hydrological Review M.L. Lees, S.J. Bryant and T.J. MarshPDF [1.1MB]
19901990 - A Year of Floods and Droughts T.J. Marsh and S.J. BryantPDF [1.0MB]
1993The Great Tay Flood of January 1993 A.R. Black and J.L. AndersonPDF [0.8MB]
1994The Chichester Flood, January 1994 S.M. TaylorPDF [0.4MB]
1994Regional Flooding in Strathclyde, December 1994 A.R. Black and A.M. BennettPDF [0.5MB]
1995The 1995 Drought - a water resources review in the context of the recent hydrological instabilityT.J. MarshPDF [0.7MB]