Training in integrated hydrological modeling


The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with support from the United States Agency for International Development Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) held a regional training in integrated hydrological modeling from 18 to 21 February 2014 in ICIMOD. 

Twenty participants from seven regional member countries of ICIMOD - Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan - attended the training that aimed to build the capacity and transfer the integrated hydrological model HIMALA BASINS to the member countries. HIMALA BASINS integrates snow, glacier melt, and rainfall into streamflow and runs under a graphical user interface using MapWindow open-source GIS software. 

One of the salient features of this model is the downscaling of the global meteorological products obtained from NASA’s Modern-era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) data to high spatial resolution for the catchment of interest. A team of experts from NASA, Utah State University, and ICIMOD have been instrumental in developing the model. The same team provided the training, with the aim to expand the model’s applicability in other basins. 

The training was part of the HIMALA initiative funded by the NASA Applied Sciences Program and the USAID/OFDA. The initiative 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 (HKH) region. The NASA partners are working with ICIMOD to incorporate snow and glacier melt, in gridded format, into a widely used hydrological model (GeoSFM) initially developed by USGS, the Utah Energy Balance (UEB) model. 

A new, simple graphical user interface has been developed that is easy to apply the model, input data, and monitor streamflow in other basins of the region. HIMALA 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 the regional partner countries from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. The HIMALA project focuses on utilizing satellite-based products to improve knowledge of hydrological processes of local river basins. After the prototype is tested and evaluated, it will be upscaled and extended to other basins in the HKH region.