NASA trains ICIMOD staff on integrated hydrological modeling


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with support from Utah State University recently trained eight ICIMOD staff members on integrated hydrological modeling. 

The three-day training, held from 23 through 26 June 2013 at ICIMOD Headquarters in Kathmandu, Nepal, was part of the HIMALA project, a collaborative endeavor between NASA, USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, and ICIMOD. 

The project has developed an integrated system that models glacier and snow melt and integrates with the hydrological models. This modeling framework is done in MapWindow-based BASINS GIS environment specifically modified to accommodate the new capability. 

Currently, the system is being tested on a small Himalayan basin using historical data. Once fully validated, the capability can be extended to other HKH snow/ice covered region and can have a potential for near real-time forecasting application in the future. 

The objective of the training was to introduce this advanced tool to ICIMOD and build the capacity of the technical staff so that they can start the model calibration and validation process. The training is expected to provide a strong foundation for training the regional member countries and further strengthen hydro-met services planning and operational capabilities in the HKH region.    

The training was part of the HIMALA Initiative funded by the NASA’s Earth Science, Applied Sciences Program, and the USAID/OFDA. NASA is developing a prototype hydrological model to assess water availability and improve understanding of the contribution of snow and glaciers to the flows of the rivers in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. 

The NASA partners are working with ICIMOD to incorporate snow and glacier melt, in gridded format, into a widely used hydrological model by introducing uniquely modified Utah Energy Balance (UEB) model. A new and simple graphical user interface is being developed that makes it easy to learn to use the model, to input data, and to monitor stream-flow in other basins of the region. 

The HIMALA Initiative focuses on providing research and investigative tools that will foster an improved understanding of climate change on hydrological resources in the HKH region building on the Satellite rainfall estimation project implemented by ICIMOD and regional partner countries from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. The project is expected to benefit the regional partner countries in flood forecasting and water resources management.