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Flooding caused by heavy rain is a serious problem in the UK and elsewhere. The Pitt Review, written following the 2007 floods in the UK, stressed the need for better analysis and forecasting of storms. Specifically, Recommendation 3 stresses the need to improve forecasting skill of heavy precipitation events that lead to flooding.

Convective clouds are normally involved in the most intense events either as distinct storms or embedded within frontal systems. These can lead to disruptive surface-water flooding or rapid flooding from fast-response river systems. The Environment Agency strategy developed after the floods that occurred in 2000, pointed out that about 40% of flood damage was due to convective rainfall and yet there are still major deficiencies in our understanding of the dynamical and precipitation processes in convective clouds and how this impacts the capability of the latest generation of convective-scale NWP forecast models.

There is a pressing need to address convective storms as part of the NERC, NCAS and Met Office strategies on hazardous weather.

The COnvective Precipitation Experiment (COPE) is a project designed to understand the key processes that control precipitation intensity and to improve their representation in convective-scale forecast models.

COPE will address four main research areas:

  1. The spatial and temporal distribution of water vapour, temperature and structures such as convergence lines in the boundary layer, and the environmental stability;
  2. The Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN) and Ice Nuclei (IN) particles ingested into the clouds;
  3. The precipitation process involving both collision and coalescence and ice particles;
  4. The dynamics and microphysics of clouds, including entrainment and mixing, downdraft formation and storm persistence.

by making intensive observations in a tightly-focussed field campaign that addresses the whole lifecycle of convective cloud systems that form in the confined geographical area of the southwest peninsula of England.