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Mr Oliver Wing


Oliver obtained a BSc in Geography from the University of Bristol in 2016, graduating with First Class Honours. He completed his dissertation on the constrainment of a physically-based friction parameter in hydraulic models under the supervision of Professor Paul Bates. Following this, he continues to study under Paul as a PhD candidate, working closely with Dr Chris Sampson and Dr Andy Smith at Fathom on their flood hazard model of the United States.

Oliver validated the hydraulic model, Fathom-US, against a suite of U.S. government agency data sets. Covering the entirety of the conterminous United States at 1 arc second resolution (~30m), Fathom-US is advantageous in its spatial extent versus a patchy mosaic of local engineering-grade studies. When compared against such data where it exists, Fathom-US could largely replicate FEMA and USGS flood maps. The paper, published in Water Resources Research, therefore concluded that flood mapping using large-scale hydraulic modelling techniques is approaching the accuracy of traditional reach-scale modelling, while being more spatially comprehensive and cheaper and faster to generate. With a validated hazard model, Oliver went on to produce risk estimates using high quality exposure data, published in Environmental Research Letters. These are likely the best estimates of flood risk in the U.S. to date, and attracted a host of media attention.

While his previous work confirmed the ascendancy of large-scale flood modelling, it also highlighted the main research voids that must be filled to ensure further progress. On top of higher quality topography data across the globe, the next step for researchers in the field is to better represent flood defences in their model structures. With a lack of comprehensive global (or even American) levee inventories, flood hazard can not be properly represented in the areas that matter most: urban areas, most of which are likely defended to some degree. As such, using existing data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Levee Database, the remainder of this PhD will focus on the construction of a predictive defence model of the United States. With a good estimate of where defences are situated and to what standard they are built, Fathom-US can be re-simulated to provide a more accurate representation of U.S. flood hazard. It is hoped that the methodologies employed in this PhD with high quality data in the U.S. can be replicated across the world.



School of Geographical Sciences

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