What is a Hydrological Outlook?

The Hydrological Outlook provides an insight into future hydrological conditions across the UK. Specifically it describes likely trajectories for river flows and groundwater levels on a monthly basis, with particular focus on the next three months.

Well established monitoring programmes provide the current status of both river flows and groundwater levels at many sites across the UK, and data from these programmes provide the starting point for the Outlook. A number of techniques are used to project forwards from the current state and results from these are used to produce a summary that includes a highlights map.

For each monthly outlook, a number supporting outputs are available.These can be found within "Further Information" that accompanies each monthly outlook.

Much of the information in the Hydrological Outlook is presented with reference to normal conditions, rather than to specific figures. Normal conditions vary with the time of year and characteristics of the river or groundwater body. More information on the variability of river flows and groundwater levels can be found at:

As with all attempts to look into the future it must be recognised that there is considerable uncertainty associated with the Hydrological Outlook. This uncertainty depends on current conditions and other factors such as the time of year and location within the UK.

The Hydrological Outlook does not provide short-term forecasts of site specific flows and levels. Such information is available at: 

* NI does not have its own flood warning system, but extreme weather warnings are available from the Met Office.
 Flood warnings are continually updated, and should be consulted for an up-to-date and localised assessment of flood risk.

The Hydrological Outlook Partnership

The Hydrological Outlook is produced in a collaboration led by the Natural Environment Research Council’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and involving the Natural Environment Research Council’s British Geological Survey (BGS), the Environment Agency (EA), the Met Office (MO), the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Natural Resources Wales (NRW), and the Rivers Agency Northern Ireland (RA).

Data are provided for the Hydrological Outlook by the EA, NRW, SEPA and RA.

Meteorological data and modelling expertise are provided by the MO.

Hydrological and hydrogeological modelling expertise are provided by CEH, BGS and the EA.

The same partners have collaborated for many years to maintain the National River Flow Archive and the National Groundwater Level Archive, and through the National Hydrological Monitoring Programme has since produced a monthly hydrological summary: Hydrological Summary for the United Kingdom

In addition, a Water Situation Report is available for England.