Flash Flood! is an application developed for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) programme, Flash Flooding from Intense Rainfall (FFIR). The FFIR research programme aims to increase our understanding of how flash floods are triggered and to improve the forecasting of the intense thunderstorms which trigger them. Flash Flood! is designed to support this research by providing an activity for events through which the programme progress can be communicated.
Flash Flood! uses the latest in virtual reality hardware, the Oculus Rift. In the virtual environment, the player can experience the pleasant scenery and atmosphere of the river valley built using scientific data collected from the site.
The game begins in the height of summer and convective thunderstorms are forecast for the area. The first warning is when the sky darkens and rain begins to steadily fall. The game leads the player through the process as the waters rise and then just as rapidly, the flood waters fall and leave behind a scene of devastation.
Understanding how rivers recover their stable forms after flash flooding from intense rainfall (FFIR) events, and how long this takes, is important to understanding the change in flood risk with our changing climate. In the UK it is expected that the number of intense storms will increase, and with it flash floods, and these carry a lot of sediment and can cause rivers to travel by a different path altogether – it is likely that rivers will become more dynamic as a consequence and this will impact on future flood risk. Understanding this is a key aspect of the NERC-FFIR programme.
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