Game on! Flooding

Flooding is a major issue affecting many people around the world. Between 1995 and 2015 at least 2.3 billion people were impacted by flooding, far more than those impacted by other natural hazards (such as drought, storms, or heatwaves.)

In the UK, 1 in 6 homes are at risk of some kind of flooding and we spend around £2.2 billion every year trying to manage it or clearing up the aftermath. Storm Eva and Storm Desmond in the winter of 2015 caused at least £1.2 billion damage and caused the nation’s economy to dip by 0.2 %.

Our Flash Flood! demo shows you what it is like to be in a river as it floods and devastates the valley. We use a high-specification graphics version with Virtual Reality at our events, and you use the YouTube version above at home or in classrooms.

This risk is going to increase as the pressure to build more homes means we encroach on areas prone to flooding. Climate change will change the type and amount of rainfall the UK receives, with overall rainfall predicted to reduce whilst summer thunderstorms are predicted to become more frequent and powerful. If we manage to limit global warming to 2°c we can expect river flows to increase 20 % during wet periods.

For coastal areas, like Hull, the risk of flooding from the sea will increase as the level of the sea rises. The melting of ice caps and glaciers is adding to the amount of water in the seas, and the extra heat causes the water to expand. By the end of the century it is predicted the seas around the Humber will be more than 70 cm higher than they are today meaning it is more likely current defences will be overtopped during storms.

The first SeriousGeoGame, Humber in a Box, merged a research model with a gaming engine to show flooding in the Humber via Virtual Reality. We no longer have a working version of this game but we hope to revive it one day!

So what can we do?

We’re never going to be able to stop flooding completely however hard we try and however much money we throw at it, but we can work to reduce its impacts on us. We can do this by making ourselves and our property better prepared.

Of those 1 in 6 homes, only 10 % actually think they are at risk of flooding and even less have a plan in place. By comparison, more than 10 % of UK homes have a plan in case of a zombie apocalypse.


The EmRiver ‘River in a Box’ demonstrates the science of Geomorphology – the processes of erosion and deposition which shape our landscapes. Floods are able to perform a lot of geomorphology in a short space of time.

You can check whether your house is at risk of flooding, sign up for flood warnings, and start making a plan by visiting the Floods Destroy website.

We will work to understand how we can reduce the impacts of flooding through defences, working with nature, and by helping people be better prepared.

Sorry, we can’t help you with the zombies…

Next level – Food

Featured image by Ryan Johson used under Creative Commons License