Today I finally managed a trip to the Thames Barrier thanks to a visit organised by CASA visitor Fuko (Assistant Prof at Nagoya Institute of Technology) and run by the Environment Agency. My recent involvement in the House Mill project has peaked my interest in flooding recently so this was a visit I was looking forward to.
The talk from the Environment Agency included a presentation of facts and figures plus a visit to their information centre. I hadn’t appreciated the barrier has operated 210 times in the past 40 years, with numbers per starting to increase and 2013/2014 being slight outlier years (50 closures over 12 month period).
The scale model of the rising gate was impressive and showed how the mechanism worked. The video below shows something similar:
Youtube video introducing Thames Barrier.
I also appreciated the description of the surge storm - “think of the low pressure system as increasing slighlty the water height, like a bump of water that comes around the top of Scotland, down the North Sea and then gets punched into Thames estuary / channel”. This in combination with a spring tide, high water levels on land from rain / snow run off plus an easterly wind all create the environment for a potential flood event (5m above average tide). Their goal is to notify potential closure 36 hours in advance to inform shipping. It take 15 mins per falling gate to close (which equates to about 90 mins when they are closing all 6 falling gates). I also hadn’t realised thre were 8 further tidal barriers, and 400 smaller gates around the London area.
As to be expected, Wikipedia has an excellent page on this project.
More photos from the visit are on Flickr: