Probable Maximum Flood – The Potential for Estimation in the UK using ReFH2

Tracey Haxton, Gianni Vesuviano, Samuel Pucknell, Thomas Kjeldsen

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The current reservoir safety guidance within the UK recommends the use of the FSR/FEH rainfall-runoff model to estimate PMF (probable maximum flood) peak flows for reservoirs within the highest risk category (A). However, the FSR/FEH model has been superseded by the ReFH2 rainfall-runoff model for all other flood risk purposes in the UK. This study develops a new modelling framework for PMF estimation using ReFH2 by translating the assumptions made within the current FSR/FEH PMF procedure and applying these within the ReFH2 rainfall-runoff model. Peak flows from the methodology are compared with those from the FSR/FEH model for 400þ catchments. The study highlights the potential for ReFH2 to be used as the rainfall-runoff model for all return periods, up to and including the PMF, thereby paving the way for using the ReFH2 model for reservoir safety studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-371
Number of pages12
JournalHydrology Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

This work was funded by WHS and UKCEH, through reinvestment of FEH Software and FEH Web Service income respectively.


  • ReFH
  • dams
  • flood estimation
  • probable maximum flood
  • reservoirs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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