The three-year initiative, led by Dr Richard Williams of the university’s School of Geographical and Earth Sciences and Dr Enrico Paringit of the University of the Philippines, is one of 18 NERC-funded projects announced this week.
Each project brings together researchers from the UK with partners from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam to boost resilience to hazards such as floods, droughts, storm surges and landslides.
Hydrometeorological hazards pose a direct threat to lives and livelihoods of people living in South East Asia, from death and injury to damaged or destroyed homes, businesses, transport links, power supplies and agricultural land.
Climate change and population growth are increasing the number of people at risk, and changes in land-use and the expansion of urban areas has led to a shift in how floods and droughts impact communities.
The University of Glasgow’s research will examine how sediment transport and sedimentation in rivers affect the risk of flooding in two areas in the Philippines.
Dr Williams said: “In the Philippines, rivers are particularly dynamic; risks arising from sedimentation and erosion need to be assessed and incorporated into flood risk management to mitigate the impact of flooding on welfare and the economy.
“Using national-scale satellite imagery, we’ll develop a dataset that shows how rivers are changing. These can be used by project partners to assess and plan infrastructure developments.
“We’ll also generate digital elevation models to map patterns of erosion and deposition during a wet season, and calculate what we call a ‘sediment budget’ for each river, which will help evaluate flood risk due to geomorphological change.
“This framework will be used, by project partners, to guide river and flood management in the Pinacanauan de Ilagan and the Bacarra catchments. The framework will also be transferable to other rivers in the Philippines, and farther afield in Southeast Asia and beyond.”
With support from the Newton Fund, NERC and the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) have established joint programmes with five partner countries in South East Asia to improve understanding of the impacts of these hazards in the region.
Ned Garnett, NERC associate director of research, said: “To increase resilience in countries prone to hydrometeorological hazards, we need to gain a better understanding of the likely environmental and social impacts.
“This programme of research will deliver this understanding enabling the development and implementation of effective adaptation and mitigation measures. For example, helping local communities to design effective flood defences or restore natural defences, such as mangroves.”
Professor Alison Park, ESRC director of research, said: “ESRC’s involvement in four of the five programmes reflects the value of social science in understanding of how local, regional and national governance processes and policies affect the severity and duration of hydrometeorological hazards.
“The programmes will provide important groundwork to improve responses to these weather hazards and will help protect against injury and environmental damage.”