NRFA Review of the Year

The UK Surface and Groundwater Archives Committee convened for its 32nd annual meeting at CEH’s Wallingford Headquarters in the last week. The Committee which comprises representatives of organisations from across the UK involved in the measurement, management or use of hydrometric data. Amongst the items discussed at this year’s meeting was a review of the activities of the NRFA over the last 12 months.

Dr Harry Dixon, Head of the NRFA, said, “2014/2015 has been a successful year for the project team which has seen us deliver a balance of ongoing core national capability in the freshwater monitoring field and new research, datasets and services.”

At the centre of the NRFA’s activities has been the updating and ongoing maintenance of the nation’s central database for hydrometric data. The NRFA is a world leading source of freshwater data which is heavily used by a wide user community including those involved in hydrological research, UK water resource planning and flood risk estimation. Over the last year use of the database has further increased with over 11,000 downloads of our data and a 20% increase in the number of enquiries handled by the NRFA helpdesk (now over 625 p.a.). The NRFA website remains the main access route for users requiring flow data and related gauging station information with the station pages on the site visits over 145,000 times in the last 12 month - a figure which equates to once every 4 minutes day and night for the last year.

The NRFA continues to provide operational support to its partners who maintain the national hydrometric monitoring network (primarily the Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Natural Resources Wales and the Northern Ireland Rivers Agency). NRFA staff have played a leading role in the publication of national and international best practice guidance over 2014/2015, including a new British Standard for Hydrometric Data Management and WMO Guidelines for Hydrometric Data Rescue.

New datasets have been launched to complement the main NRFA, most notably a national peak flow data service, launched in April 2014 to underpin UK flood estimation and the UK Integrated Hydrological Units, a new spatial dataset designed to aid a wider range of hydrological applications.

To improve the outreach and communication of NRFA activities, the archive has developed a number of new initiatives over the last year including launching a Twitter feed and regular e‑newsletter. Please sign up and follow us so that we can make you aware of new data, services and research as it is published.

The National Hydrological Monitoring Programme, operated jointly by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and British Geological Survey has continued to publish our monthly Hydrological Summaries for the UK as well as reports and papers investigating the 2013/14 floods.

Looking forward, Harry Dixon commented, “the NRFA hopes to launch a number of new developments over the coming twelve months designed to further improve access to our data and help users understand the UK freshwater environment.”