Remember the drought of 1976? Researchers want to hear tales of historic dry summer

Drought pageResearchers are asking the public to share their stories about the red hot summer of 1976 as part of a new project looking at solutions for future droughts.

On the 40th anniversary of the country’s most severe water storage in living memory, Dr Tina McGuinness from the Management School is part of a national team urging those who have memories to share their accounts.

The anecdotes will contribute towards a £3.2million project named Drought Risk and You (DRY), which aims to provide new evidence for managing future droughts, drawing on science and experience.

Dr McGuinness said: “In June 1976, temperatures of 30 degrees-plus were recorded for as many as 16 consecutive days in the UK, and many reservoirs dried up as a result – it gripped the nation, and we want to capture some of the memories that endure 40 years on.

“The stories are a valuable component of our research, and they need to be considered when looking at solutions for future droughts. How did it affect you, your family or your work? We want to hear the positives and the negatives – from enjoying watching kids playing in the sunshine, to struggling to keep the family hydrated. Your account of that summer could have an impact on how we cope with future droughts.”

The four-year DRY project, which brings together researchers from eight universities and institutes, aims to ensure that the country is better prepared for another extreme water shortage.

Dr McGuinness added: “Climate change, often leading to extreme weather, is a huge global challenge and we require action from everyone to cope with future crises. This is an opportunity for people to contribute with their narrative of June 1976.”

This study will focus on the impact of drought on seven river catchments, including the River Don which Dr McGuinness is leading on. These are the Cornwall River Fowey; River Frome (Bristol); River Pang (Wiltshire); Bevills Leam (Fenlands); Afon Ebbw (South Wales); and the River Eden (Fife).

The research team is led by UWE Bristol and also includes the University of Sheffield, Loughborough University, NERC’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Harper Adams University, University of Warwick, University of Exeter, University of Dundee and Climate Outreach.

Do you remember the drought of ‘76? How did you cope? Did it bring people together in communities? What sacrifices did you have to make? How did it affect your life in Sheffield?

Contribute to the project via:

  • Add your story as a comment on this page.
  • Tweet your images and memories of past and current droughts, and local water-use: @Project_DRY
  • Contact us if you would like to join our workshops: +44 (0)117 32 87024