HKH Cryosphere Monitoring Project

Monitoring and Assessment of Changes in Glaciers, Snow and Glacio-hydrology in the Hindu Kush Himalayas with a special focus on strengthening the capacity of Nepalese organizations 


The Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region, often referred to as the Third Pole, contains the world’s greatest areal extent and volume of permanent ice and permafrost outside the polar regions. This vast accumulation of snow and glaciers acts as a natural water reserve, which serves as a water source for approximately 1.3 billion inhabitants in the 10 major Asian river basins downstream. 

Rising temperatures, especially at higher altitudes, are playing a role in rapid glacier melt, increased frequency and magnitude of associated extreme weather events, and shifts in monsoon patterns. These changes impact the availability of water for agriculture, domestic needs, industry, and hydropower. The water needed for the environment and to maintain ecosystem services is also at stake. In this regard, it is critical to improve our understanding of the changes taking place in the cryosphere and determine their implications for the region’s water supply. 

To enhance and expand the current knowledge and understanding of the cryosphere of the HKH, the six-year HKH Cryosphere Monitoring Project will undertake activities to analyse changes in glaciers, snow, and glacio-hydrology in relation to impacts of climate change for water resources management in the HKH region, including: 

  • monitoring of glacier mass balance and surface motion and measurements of glacier geometry;
  • assessment of current and future water resources at catchment and sub-basin scales;
  • establishment of a multi-level remote sensing-based observation system for monitoring snow and glaciers in basins and sub-basins;
  • strengthening of ICIMOD as regional knowledge hub for sharing and disseminating cryosphere-related data and information; and
  • capacity building.

Objectives

  • Enhance the institutional capacity and competence of partners in the HKH region for sustained cryospheric monitoring, including on glacio-hydrological modelling, scenario development, and remote sensing.
  • Contribute significantly to improved knowledge and understanding on the HKH cryosphere. 
  • Establish the HKH Cryosphere Knowledge Hub at ICIMOD to enhance cooperation and the sharing of data on the HKH cryosphere.

Duration

November 2010 - November 2015

Geographical coverage

Yala Glacier and Rikha Samba Glacier and their catchments in the Langtang and Hidden valleys of Nepal, respectively. Detailed modelling studies will be carried out on a sub-basin scale and snow monitoring and glacier inventory analyses will be conducted on the scale of entire mountain ranges.

Core financial partners/development partners/sponsor

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway 

Implementing partners

  • Water and Energy Commission Secretariat, Nepal
  • Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Nepal
  • Tribhuvan University, Nepal
  • Kathmandu University, Nepal
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich 

Contact information

Pradeep Mool
Action Area Team Leader