Dr Linda Speight

Departmental Lecturer in Physical Geography

Career Development Fellow, Hertford College, Oxford

Academic Profile

Linda Speight is a hydrometeorologist whose research seeks to develop early warning systems to improve disaster risk management, particularly for flooding. She is interested in global flood forecasting, surface water flood forecasting, ensemble forecasts, impact-based forecasts, risk communication, decision making and climate resilience.

Linda joined the University of Oxford in 2021, moving from the University of Reading where she was a postdoctoral researcher. Prior to joining the University of Reading, Linda was a Senior Scientist at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) where she was involved in operational flood forecasting and led the scientific development of the Scottish Flood Forecasting Service. Linda has a BSc from the University of Bristol (2005) and an MSc from Newcastle University (2006). Her PhD research, completed at the University of Newcastle in 2013, sought to develop a methodology for understanding dependencies in flood risk exposure in the UK. Linda has also held associate lecturing positions at the University of Lincoln and the University of Portsmouth. She started her career as a flood risk analyst at JBA Consulting.

Working at the interface between research and practice, Linda regularly works with partners including the Environment Agency and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), UK Met Office, UK Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and the Red Cross Climate Centre. Linda is an Editor for the Journal of Flood Risk Management and an affiliate of the UCL Warning Research Centre. She is a member of HEPEX, the British Hydrological Society and the Royal Meteorological Society.

Current Research

Linda is involved in interdisciplinary research improving the operational use of risk-based flood forecasting science. Her research falls under three main topics.

Global flood forecasting

Exploring the application of global forecasts to support anticipatory response, Linda works with partners, such as the Red Cross Climate Centre, to strengthen forecast-based humanitarian action in advance of major events. At the University of Reading Linda worked on the NERC/FCDO funded FATHUM project. One of Linda's key roles was the development and provision of real time flood bulletins to the UK Government Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to support humanitarian response to major tropical cyclones.

Surface water flood forecasting

Linda has had a long involvement in the development of surface water flood forecasting capabilities in the UK. She played a central role in developing a surface water forecasting system for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The system combined probabilistic numerical weather prediction with hydrological modelling and flood risk and impact assessment. The project was subsequently awarded the Royal Meteorological Society Innovation Prize in 2018.

At the University of Reading she carried out a policy and practice review of the NERC funded Flooding from Intense Rainfall (FFIR) programme, interviewing subject matter experts to bring together the technical developments and identify recommendations for changes in policy, practice and further research for flood forecasting.

Linda has recently published a review paper on operational and emerging capabilities in surface water flood forecasting and continues to be involved in the development of surface water flood forecasting systems. She is currently working with the University of Leeds and the iCASP project to test enhanced surface water flood forecasts for Yorkshire.

Climate resilience

Linda's research seeks to demonstrate the value of forecasting and warning as one tool (amongst many) to improve resilience to extreme weather events. She recently published a briefing report on the projected impacts of climate change on flood risk in the UK. During the exceptional flooding across Europe in 2021, Linda provided expert commentary to UK and international media, articulating the need for continued international investment in flood forecasting systems.

Teaching and Supervision


Linda is the physical geography tutor at Hertford College. Linda and her colleagues are responsible for teaching students across the entire breadth of geographical topics for the Preliminary Examination and Final Honour School of Geography.

In the School of Geography and the Environment, Linda leads the FHS Option 'Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation' and co-leads the 'Geographic Data Science' Option.


Linda leads on the 'Climate and Catchment Processes' module on the MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management (WSPM).

Linda welcomes enquiries from individuals wishing to undertake research across the themes of flood risk, flood forecasting, forecast based action and climate resilience.

Current Graduate Research Students

Karolina Krupska
(University of Reading)

Projecting intensive rainfall events and their impact on bathing water quality in SW England.

Selected Publications