ATOM Festival 2018 event: daytime talk

Sunday 18th March 2018

Dr Mike Dearnaley:

The Challenges of Working with Water

Population growth, economic expansion and changes to natural hazards are leading to altered risks to people, infrastructure, the economy and the environment.  Global water demand is expected to increase with water resources becoming scarcer, leaving ever more of the world’s population in severely water stressed river basins.  Global energy demand is expected to be higher in the future with the associated risk of increased greenhouse gas emissions, acceleration of climate change and exacerbation of global biodiversity loss, drought, flood and erosion risk.  At all levels water is central to these issues.  Today the need to understand and apply the relevant science to make informed decisions is critical.  Mike will illustrate some of today’s scientific challenges in the world of water through the work undertaken by HR Wallingford. 

Sunday 18th March 2018 at 1:30pm at The Amey Theatre, Abingdon School



Dr Mike Dearnaley is Director of Science and Skills Development at HR Wallingford with responsibility for science services across the Company and delivery of the Company’s annual programme of external training courses.  In addition to his Company-wide role Mike specialises in the fields of port and waterway development, coastal and estuarine processes, dredging and environmental assessment and management in the water sector. Mike has over 30 years’ experience in these fields.  Mike has participated in wide ranging liaison with government scientific advisors and regulators informing policy development as well as working at a project level with input to design and environmental assessment including regulator and stakeholder consultation and Public Inquiry.  HR Wallingford is the UK’s leading independent engineering and environmental hydraulics organisation and is based outside Wallingford on the River Thames about 10 miles south east of Abingdon. 



HR Wallingford is an independent civil engineering and environmental hydraulics organisation working to solve water-related challenges around the world since its foundation in 1947. 

At Howbery Business Park, near Wallingford, the company’s Froude Modelling Hall has impressive physical modelling facilities which include seven wave basins, used to build and test breakwaters and coastal defence schemes in large scale models of ports, harbours and beaches.

In addition, there are numerous wave flumes, the largest of which, the Fast Flow Facility, measures 75 m long and holds a million litres of water – equivalent to an Olympic swimming pool. This facility can house the company’s tsunami simulator which has been used for research with UCL’s EpiCentre.  The Fast Flow Facility is also used to test the stability of foundations and cables for renewable energy projects.  A recent research project with the University of Rostock in Germany is helping to predict the movement of unexploded WWII bombs in the sea, important for the safe-working of marine energy projects.

The company’s UK Ship Simulation Centre and Australia Ship Simulation Centre in Perth provide virtual reality ship and tug simulation with each simulator a functioning ship or tug’s bridge surrounded by a 360-degree simulated environment. The Ship Simulation Centres are used for pilot training, such as helping to prepare the Tug Masters responsible for towing Shell Prelude, the largest floating structure ever built, from South Korea to Western Australia, and also as part of port and harbour design where simulating vessel navigation plays a vital role in the design process. 

HR Wallingford is also at the forefront of climate change risk assessment in the UK and internationally, and specialises in translating the latest scientific research into practical policy advice, adaptation strategies and decision support tools.  Skills and expertise cover the technology and science behind flood risk management, working in partnership with clients to understand their climate sensitivity and vulnerability, assess their capacity to respond and then put into effect practical steps to improve their resilience to climate change.

A dynamic research programme underpins everything the organisation does, boasting a unique mix of know-how, and facilities, a full range of numerical modelling tools and, above all, enthusiastic people with world-renowned skills and expertise.



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