Regional Training on Hydrological Modelling in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

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Training participants gather for a group photo 
Photo: Jitendra Bajracharya/ICIMOD

The current and future impact of climate change on water availability in the Hindu Kush Himalaya is a great concern, and is important to understand for better planning of water resources. Hydrological models provide insight into different parts of the hydrological cycle which can help planners and policy makers take informed decisions for the planning and management of water resources. However, appropriate model selection to represent governing natural processes under given data availability conditions is important. It is also important to be able to address research/development questions. With this aim, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), in collaboration with FutureWater and the SERVIR Science Coordination office, conducted training on two models, Spatial Process in Hydrology (SPHY) and Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC), from 16 to 23 May 2017. Three initiatives from ICIMOD, namely the Indus Basin Initiative (IBI), SERVIR Hindu Kush Himalaya (SERVIR-HKH), and Himalayan University Consortium (HUC) jointly organized the training.

FutureWater, in collaboration with ICIMOD, developed the SPHY model which is flexible in scale, includes cryosphere, mountain hydrology, lowland hydrology, and land surface processes. The May training on the SPHY was the third of its kind organized by ICIMOD and included recent developments in the model. The VIC model has been widely used in water resources and agricultural management research in large river basins with focus on rainfall runoff processes. By introducing two models, the participants were able to distinguish dominating hydrological processes in different catchment scales.

Participants with resource persons during a hands-on exercise
Photo: Jitendra Bajracharya/ICIMOD

The training was attended by 20 water professionals—17 male and 3 female—from Afghanistan (Eshraq Institute of Higher Education, Ministry of Energy and Water and Kabul University), Bangladesh (Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology), Bhutan (National Center for Hydrology and Meteorology and Sherubtse College), China (Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences), India (National Institute of Hydrology and The Energy and Resources Institute), Nepal (Department of Hydrology and Meteorology and Kathmandu University), Pakistan (Pakistan Council of Research on Water Resources and Water and Power Development Authority), and ICIMOD staff. Rene Winjgaard and Sonu Khanal from FutureWater, Santosh Nepal from ICIMOD, and Rushi Begum Rabeya from the SERVIR Science Coordination office were the resource persons. 

The training introduced participants to the basic concept of hydrological modelling. There were lectures on the SPHY and the VIC models, instructions on model installation, and hands-on exercises on different aspects of modelling. Once they had received instruction and training on both modules, trainees were able to run the models in their own catchments and present the results of the modelling exercise. The resource persons were proactive in responding to all of the participants, answering their questions and responding to their inquiries throughout the training period.  

Participants with resource persons during a hands-on exercise
Photo: Jitendra Bajracharya/ICIMOD

Participants were excited about the training and appreciated both the training modules. They said the models were relevant to their institutes and that the training had been a learning experience. Sonia Grover from India thanked the trainers and organizers, saying the training had been fruitful and explaining that she would be able to choose among the two models thanks to what she had learnt during the training. Similarly, Salman Ali from Pakistan said, “This training was relevant to my department and I will request the department to use the VIC model.” The participants also suggested that training manuals be provided in advance and that the durations of such training sessions be extended in the future. They also suggested that the user interface of the models be improved.