Case studies

Mapping Storm Desmond’s devastation in Carlisle



In December, Storm Desmond caused widespread destruction in Carlisle and the surrounding area. Between 2,200 and 3,500 homes flooded in Carlisle after key flood defences failed. Mapping the locations which flooded and the depth of the water level is vitally important for research and improving the way floods are managed in the future. We are using data shared on floodcrowd, our own measurements and satellite imagery to achieve this and need your help.


In the days after the floods hit Carlisle, we teamed up with an organisation called Tomnod which is run by commercial satellite company (DigitalGlobe). Tomnod makes public its online map interfaces in order to encourage as many people as possible to each view and tag a small section, which in this instance, is for signs of flood damage. This new method of knowledge sharing has also been used in the hunt for evidence of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. In less than a week, over 700 people tagged over 13,000 flooded locations in Carlisle and the surrounding area.

The quality of the tags was high, particularly in rural areas. And where citizen scientists found it difficult to identify flooded areas, we surveyed the depths of the floods on the ground by examining marks on walls of public buildings.

The Tomnod Storm Desmond campaign has now finished. However, you can still help this research by sharing your photos and observations of the floods through floodcrowd. We will update this space soon with results of our research into the floods.