The UK Climate Resilience Programme ran from 2019 to 2023

Building UK climate resilience through bridging the qualitative-quantitative data divide (Webinar)

UK Climate Resilience Programme webinar series

18 November 2020, 12.00-13.00

Speakers: Neil Macdonald (University of Liverpool, School of Environmental Sciences)

Chair: Suraje Dessai


The UK has witnessed several recent high magnitude floods, droughts and storms, causing loss of life, damage to infrastructure and economic hardship. Current climate resilience is often based on experiences garnered over short timescales, as such, the accurate estimation and understanding of high-magnitude low-probability events is challenging. However, historical records can contest and contextualise claims of uniqueness, unparalleled magnitude or severity, terms often associated with contemporary extremes. These historical sources often also provides valuable information detailing how past communities and societies have responded and adapted to such events, which can shape future responses.

This project established an interdisciplinary network that examined approaches for bridging the qualitative-quantitative ‘data gap’ in the climate and hydrological sciences, bringing historical data and information into modern climate resilience building. This webinar reflects on the experience of building a network of experts from a range of disciplines (e.g. geographers, historians, engineers, corpus linguistics, archivists, hydrologists, sociologists, disaster management, planners and insurance) related to climate resilience in the UK and the development of a framework for working across disciplines. Our framework takes into account and recognises disciplinary differences, but builds these into the framework, recognising that dependent on the final goal, loss of resolution or context in some instances may be necessary, but that this can potentially be reintroduced later to add content and depth unavailable from instrumental data alone.


Professor Neil Macdonald (University of Liverpool, School of Environmental Sciences) is a geographer with research interests across water, climate and society. His research has a strong historical focus on better understanding the interrelationships between natural hazards, landscapes and the societies that occupied these environments.

View Neil MacDonald’s slide presentation

You can watch recordings of the webinar – which have been split into four films – on our YouTube channel, using the links below: