Participants of On-the-job Training Develop Glacier Change Data for Selected HKH Basins


From 10 April to 9 June 2017, six faculty members from Tribhuvan University (TU) in Kathmandu completed a two-month on-the-job training on the application of remote sensing (RS) and geographic information system (GIS) for the mapping and monitoring of glaciers. The output of the training will be included in a glacier change assessment of five river basins in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH), to be delivered by the end of 2017.

“We were working independently through the process of mapping glaciers from satellite images. This helped further develop my remote sensing skills and my skills using different software, “said Ramita Bajracharya, Assistant Professor, Central Department of Geology, TU. Bajracharya is working on the eastern side of the Upper Brahmaputra Basin. She plans to use the skills from this training to conduct similar research in the future.

As part of the on-the-job training, the attendees downloaded satellite images from 1990, 2000, and 2010 and generated glacier maps for each year for selected basins or regions in the HKH.  The data was compiled to prepare decadal glacier change for the selected basins. Training attendees used semi-automatic delineation of clean ice and debris covered glaciers using eCognition software and developed their glacier databases using ArcGIS. 

Ramita Bajracharya, Assistant Professor, Central Department of Geology, TU mapping eastern side of the Upper Brahmaputra Basin 

The outcome of their work was reported to their supervisors at ICIMOD on a weekly basis, where assigned experts provided feedback and technical guidance on improving final products.

The Cryosphere Initiative of ICIMOD which partners with TU under the Cryosphere Monitoring Programme in Nepal (CMP-Nepal) organized the training to develop the capacities of professionals from partner institutes and transfer knowledge on a wider scale. The on-the-job training was a follow up to a recent one-week training on the same topic and meant to maximize the benefits of the one-week training. While short-term trainings do familiarize participants with the tools and techniques necessary for mapping and monitoring glaciers and glacial lakes, when the participants of these workshops return to their regular work or study routines, it becomes difficult for them to practice and further develop their remote sensing techniques. CMP-Nepal focuses on longer-term on-the-job trainings that provide opportunities attendees the opportunity to further develop and apply the skills and knowledge they have learnt    through short-term trainings.

Over the course of their on-the-job training, the six TU faculty members mapped the glaciers of the Brahmaputra Basin and some parts of the Ganges Basin. They will continue to work further to improve the glacier database. The attendees can now explore the RS tools and techniques to conduct independent research. 

Glacier mapping of Brahmaputra basin as prepared by training participants using object-based image classification method 
Image: Anita TuiTui/TU