The knowledge on natural resources accounting to support subsistence livelihoods and environmental conservation is a critical and perennial need in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region. The changing dynamics of snow and glaciers, atmospheric pollution and transport, inter and intra annual patterns of water availability and crop production, dynamics of land cover and vegetation phenology are some of the processes which largely affect natural resource support and govern the quality of living. The assessment and monitoring of such processes on finer time scales with higher synoptic views provide strategic information for resource management at sub national and national level. In this context, operational satellite based near real-time earth observation and monitoring systems (NOAA, MODIS, MERIS, TRMM, etc.) are globally used to provide primary scientific data products and a framework for furthering knowledge development and decision making by bridging the prevailing data and information gaps.
Considering these potentials, a MODIS acquisition and processing system was installed at the ICIMOD Headquarters. MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) is a key instrument launched into Earth orbit by NASA in 1999 on board of the Terra (EOS AM) Satellite, and in 2002 on board of the Aqua (EOS PM) satellite. Terra MODIS and Aqua MODIS are viewing the HKH region two times daily, acquiring data in 36 spectral bands with a spatial resolution of 250m, 500m and 1000m.
As part of the USAID-NASA/ICIMOD-SERVIR Himalaya program, efforts are being made to develop MODIS based user friendly customized products, near real time delivery of products and online data and information services. Near real time online availability and transfer of basic data, MODIS based daily forest fire alerts and aerosol monitoring, weekly snow cover monitoring and in season crop growth assessment are a few recent examples which have triggered enormous response and use. It is now intended to enhance the type of product services and extend these to a range of users across the HKH region. In this context, a regional consultation workshop is being organized to discuss with different stakeholders the type of products and services they require. Apart from existing products and services, potential areas of applications could be extended to water resources management or disaster monitoring and response among others. Also, effective ways of disseminating data and products, as well as capacity building requirements will be discussed.