C.3 Soil and hydrogeological maps

C.3.1 Soil maps

Soils maps depict the distribution of soil types in the landscape and incorporate much information that is potentially useful for ground investigations.

Soils are defined by the Soil Survey of Great Britain (SSGB) as the thin upper layer, nominally 1,2 m of material at the Earth's surface and take into account particle-size distribution, chemical characteristics, drainage and parent material. Certain soil types are defined in other ways, for example, peats are defined by their botanical composition and state of humification and can vary in depth from 0,5 m to over 10 m. The occurrence of compressible materials, shrinkable clays, shallow depth to rock, unconsolidated sands and degrees of natural soil wetness and drainage can all be assessed from soil maps. Special maps showing peat distribution, groundwater vulnerability to pollution and the risk of erosion by water are also available.

Publications lists and soils information for England and Wales is held by the National Soil Resources Institute20) within the Department of Environmental Science and Technology at Cranfield University. The Macaulay Land Use Research Institute21) in Aberdeen (part of the James Hutton Institute) holds the information for Scotland. The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI)22), a non-departmental public body within the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Belfast, holds data for Northern Ireland.

C.3.2 Hydrogeological maps

Hydrogeological maps are published at scales of 1:63 360, 1:50 000 and 1:25 000 for large areas of Great Britain and there is complete cover for England, Wales and Scotland at the 1:625 000 scale, and at 1:250 000 scale for Northern Ireland. Groundwater vulnerability maps of Scotland at a scale of 1:625 000 and Northern Ireland at a scale of 1:250 000 are published by the BGS. A series of maps covering England and Wales at 1:100 000 has been produced for the Environment Agency and is available from the Stationery Office.23) The Environment Agency has also produced aquifer designation maps.

Scans of published hydrogeological maps can be viewed at: http://www.bgs.ac.uk/data/maps/home.html [last viewed 24 June 2015].

Information is also available on the Environment Agency website: http://www.ea.gov.uk [last viewed 24 June 2015].

In addition there is much unpublished archive data and surveys which can be consulted by arrangement with the appropriate institutes.

C.4 Marine information

C.4.1 Charts

The UK Hydrographic Office of the Ministry of Defence publishes charts for nearly all the navigable tidal waterways of the world to various scales. The charts show high and low water lines and the levels of the sea and river beds with reference to a datum that is defined on the chart, together with certain other tidal information.

C.4.2 Tide tables

Admiralty Tide Tables are published annually (in hard copy form) in four volumes:

  • Vol. 1: European waters (including the Mediterranean Sea);
  • Vol. 2: The Atlantic Ocean;
  • Vol. 3: The Indian Ocean; and
  • Vol. 4: The Pacific Ocean and adjacent seas. Each of these consists of three parts:
  • Part I gives predictions of the times and heights of high and low water at standard ports;
  • Part II gives data for prediction at secondary ports; and
  • Part III gives the harmonic constants for all standard and most secondary ports.

C.4.3 Other publications

The Hydrographic Office also publishes books of sailing directions, general information on tides and other navigational publications, which, together with the charts, are listed in the Catalogue of Admiralty Charts and other Hydrographic Publications (which also includes a list of agents), published annually.

Further information on Admiralty charts and hydrographic publications can be obtained direct from the Hydrographer of the Navy.24)

C.5 Meteorological information

C.5.1 Reports

The Meteorological Office collects and publishes meteorological information in the United Kingdom in various forms:

  • a) Monthly: The monthly weather report summarizes weather observations for about 600 stations in the United Kingdom. Principal data include air temperature, rainfall and sunshine. There are summaries of autographic records of wind from about 130 stations, and frequency tables of the occurrence of air temperatures between certain limits for about 20 stations. Additionally, an annual summary has frequency tables of sunshine, rainfall and wind speed. The monthly weather report is normally published about 8 months in arrears to allow time for all the data to be collected and quality controlled.
  • b) Annually: Monthly and annual rainfall totals for about 6 000 stations, together with amounts and dates of maximum daily falls, are published in Rainfall 19xx ("xx" signifies the particular year of interest). Monthly, annual and seasonal rainfall as a percentage of annual average, frequency of distributions of daily rainfall, amounts and spells of rainfall, and rainfall excess or deficiency are included for selected stations. Heavy falls of rain are also listed. Rainfall 19xx is normally published two to three years after the end of the year to which it relates.
  • c) Other information: Where up-to-date information is not available, local statutory bodies, including the Environmental Regulators (i.e. the Environment Agency, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Environment Wales) can be useful sources of data.

C.5.2 Statistics

Averages and extremes for various elements are published from time to time. Tables of temperature, relative humidity and precipitation for the world are published by the Meteorological Office, giving climatic tables for some 1 800 stations throughout the world. Data consist of means and extremes for varying periods depending on the station.

All enquiries concerning the availability and prices of historical weather data can be addressed to the Meteorological Office.25)