30 years

Celebrating 30 Years of the National River Flow Archive

Hydrometric Data: The Long View coverCapture of NRFA Gauging Station mapSoftware displayMap SigningPublications StandChart RecorderADCP boat

A one-day meeting entitled Hydrometric Data: Taking the Long View was held on 22nd October 2013 to celebrate 30 years of the National River Flow Archive (NRFA) and National Groundwater Level Archive (NGLA) being hosted by NERC at Wallingford. The meeting aimed to review the achievements of the archives and the exploitation of this rich hydrological data resource by its broad user community. The 30 years of joint operation of the archives provides a unique long-term perspective on hydrometric data management and hydrological research and applications more generally. The meeting attracted a wide range of attendees including delegates from hydrometric measuring authorities, the research community and hydrological practitioners. Over 120 delegates attended from a variety of organisations and many NRFA Alumni staff were able to return to Wallingford for the day.

Current and former NRFA/NGLA staff discussed the history of hydrometric data management, the activities of the archives and their impacts, and future directions. External speakers, from organisations such as the Environment Agency, SEPA, and the University of Dundee, provided their perspectives on uses for the data held in the archive. There was a poster session and a display of hydrometric equipment, current and historic provided by Environment Agency staff. Displays provided by the NRFA included demonstrations of CEH software used for both flow data and spatial data analysis.

A stand featured publications available from the NRFA, including Yearbooks, occasional reports and the Hydrometric Register. Copies of these reports are still available from the NRFA, contact the NRFA if you would like any hard copies. The day also saw the launch of the new publication, "The 2010-12 drought and subsequent extensive flooding - a remarkable hydrological transformation", by scientists from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in partnership with the Met Office, and with technical guidance from the British Geological Survey. A new gauging station network map was produced for the 30th celebrations. A PDF is available to download here; limited printed copies are also available, please contact the NRFA.

Background to the NRFA

The management of hydrological data at the UK scale can be traced back to the Inland Water Survey in the 1930s. In 1982, the Surface Water Archive and Groundwater Level Archive were transferred to Wallingford, under the stewardship of the Institute of Hydrology (now the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) and the British Geological Survey. The NRFA now has over 50,000 station-years of river flow data, from over 1,500 gauging stations, with the longest records dating from the 19th Century. The NGLA holds over 9,000 station-years of data from its current network of stations and one off or short period observations from over 50,000 water wells. Together the NRFA and NGLA data have underpinned much of the hydrological research and water resources management activity carried out in the UK over the last three decades.


The agenda of the day is available here.

Presentation List


Poster List


Additional Information

To mark the 30th anniversary of the NRFA and NGLA at Wallingford, CEH published a series of blog posts exploring how the hydrometric data held by the archive has been used in past and present scientific research, and how such a valuable data resource is vital for taking a long view of both hydrological trends and significant one-off events. The series concluded with an article by the head of the National River Flow Archive, Jamie Hannaford, in which he looked ahead to future developments for the archive.

Some photos of the event are available on Flickr.

Read the CEH news story about the event.