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Earth observation and geospatial information services for disaster risk reduction – Examples from the HKH


Microsoft Teams

Date & Time

24 September 2020


Utsav Maden



Hydro-climatic disasters in the form of seasonal, riverine, and flash floods frequently occur along the rivers and tributaries in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region. Every year, destructive floods result in the loss of lives and livelihoods and cause severe damage to infrastructure and property. However, floods in the region cannot be totally controlled. Therefore, efforts should be directed towards reducing flood vulnerability and mitigating flood impacts through improved flood risk management by providing end-to-end flood forecasting and warning services.

ICIMOD, through its regional programme on Mountain Environment Regional Information System (MENRIS), works to contribute to effective evidence-based decision-making processes by governments, communities, and individuals using scientific data, Earth observation information, and geospatial information technologies in the areas of agriculture, environment, disaster, natural resources, and climate change. Through its initiatives, MENRIS has been working on enhancing flood early warning systems by improving flood forecasting, promoting data sharing and improving communications for actionable information to emergency responders and to those at-risk.

This webinar will present ongoing efforts under MENRIS to bring Earth observation and geospatial information into action to support disaster risk reduction, with a special focus on floods.


Ghulam Rasul

Regional Programme Manager, MENRIS, ICIMOD


David Molden

Director General, ICIMOD

Birendra Bajracharya

Chief of Party – SERVIR-HKH, ICIMOD

Franz Meyer

Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Jim Nelson

Professor, Brigham Young University

Mandira Shrestha

Programme Coordinator – Climate Services Initiative, ICIMOD

Sudip Pradhan

Programme Coordinator – Regional Database System Initiative, ICIMOD

Time Description Speaker
09:00–09:05 Introduction of the webinar and speakers Ghulam Rasul, Regional Programme Manager, MENRIS, ICIMOD
09:05–09:10 Welcome remarks David Molden, Director General, ICIMOD
09:10–09:20 SERVIR’s efforts on application of Earth observation and geospatial technologies for disaster risk reduction in the HKH region Birendra Bajracharya, Chief of Party –SERVIR-HKH, ICIMOD
09:20–09:40 Hydrologic modeling as a service: A new paradigm for streamflow forecasting Jim Nelson, Professor, Brigham Young University
09:40–10:00 2020 floods in Nepal and Bangladesh: Rapid inundation mapping using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite remote sensing Franz Meyer, Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks
10:00–10:15 Building climate services in the HKH region for informed decision making at the local level Mandira Shrestha, Programme Coordinator – Climate Services Initiative, ICIMOD
10:15–10:30 Promoting regional data visualization and sharing Sudip Pradhan, Programme Coordinator – Regional Database System Initiative, ICIMOD
10:30–11:00 Q&A Facilitator: Ghulam Rasul, ICIMOD

Franz Meyer is a Professor of Radar Remote Sensing at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, one of the world’s leading universities for Arctic research. He is also the Chief Scientist of the Alaska Satellite Facility, NASA’s prime Distributed Active Archive Center for radar remote sensing data. Meyer has published more than 130 papers on the theory and application of synthetic aperture radar (SAR), five of which received best paper awards. He is the 2011 winner of the IEEE GRSS GOLD Early Career award, and received the Terris and Katrina Moore Prize in 2014 for his research work in radar remote sensing. Together with a small team of SAR researchers, he is the winner of the 2019 NASA/USAID SERVIR Collaboration Award for his efforts in strengthening the NASA SERVIR network’s SAR capacity. Meyer currently holds several leadership positions in internationally recognized professional organizations, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, and Committee on Earth Observation Satellites.

Jim Nelson is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Brigham Young University, where he has worked since 1996 and currently holds the BYU College of Engineering Armin Hill Professorship. In 2019, he was awarded the American Water Resources Association David R. Maidment Award for Exemplary Contributions to Water Resources. He was the primary developer of the Watershed Modeling System, a pre-post processor for hydrologic modeling adopted by the US Federal Highways Administration for all state department of transportation’s use in hydrologic design and licensed to thousands of users in more than 100 countries worldwide. The Brigham Young University hydroinformatics lab is a world-leader in web application development for water resources and produced the open source Tethys Platform used by NASA, US Army Corps of Engineers, and others for the visualization and delivery of water resources information as a web service. He has published more than 60 articles in peer-reviewed journals and several other contributions to books, user’s manuals, and other conference proceedings. Most recently, he has been a key member of the Group on Earth Observations Global Water Sustainability (GEOGloWS) initiative and the leader of the partnership in developing a global streamflow forecasting system as a service based on the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts GloFAS model. This effort grew out of a NASA-SERVIR project focused on the HKH region in collaboration with ICIMOD and now is used, with other tools as part of their MENRIS programme.