Improving Water Management through Satellite Remote Sensing Applications

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Regional knowledge centre organizes training on using satellite imagery to better manage freshwater resources 

Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) and ICIMOD are conducting an advanced training workshop on ‘Nurturing Satellite Remote Sensing Applications for Water Management in South Asia’ in Islamabad, Pakistan from 16-20 February 2015. Distinguished professors from the University of Washington, the University of Houston, and Ohio State University are training participants from key water resource management agencies in the country, including PCRWR, IRSA, PMD, and PARC. 

At the inaugural session, Kamran Ali Qureshi, Federal Secretary at the Ministry of Science and Technology, emphasized that the stand-alone physical models based on hydrology, hydraulics or meteorology have become increasingly inadequate for predicting the state of freshwater availability without the numerical assimilation of the human role in freshwater management. He further said that the use of satellites in space is the only way to constantly monitor the changes freshwater resources are undergoing as a result of the interplay between human behaviour and natural processes. He said that the HKH region, including Pakistan, urgently needs to use satellite remote sensing techniques given the burgeoning population, limited freshwater resources, occurrence of floods and drought, groundwater mining, and the effects of climate change in the region. 

In his welcome address, Dr Muhammad Ashraf, Chairman of PCRWR, informed that the training workshop has given Pakistani professionals an opportunity to broaden their horizon by learning about current and future satellite systems for water resources management. Dr Faisal Hossain, lead trainer from the University of Washington, said that water use has become central to national development as it is interdependent with other resources and thus essential for  growing food, producing energy, and protecting us from floods and drought. Water is therefore increasingly being managed by humans rather than being left to the workings of nature. Satellite data platforms for cost-effective measurement of water can play a crucial role. Dr Ashraf added that the information from satellites is freely available and should be used for better planning and formulating more robust policy for improving the quality of life.

ICIMOD, through its SERVIR Himalaya initiative supported by NASA and USAID, is promoting the use of Earth observations and predictive models to improve environmental management and resilience to climate change in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region.