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Water Management and Climate Change in the Himalayas: Providing New Tools to Prevent Hazards and Enable the Understanding of Changing Climate

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Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Water Management and Climate Change in the Himalayas: Providing New Tools to Prevent Hazards and Enable the Understanding of Changing Climate
Washington State Convention Center
Molly Brown, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD; and K. Yager, S. Habib, G. Artan, A. Racovinteanu, and M. S. Shrestha

The HIMALA project aims at developing a system that will aid populations at risk on early warning of floods, droughts and other water and climate-induced natural hazards in the Himalayan region, an area that is home to over 200 million inhabitants in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Burma, Nepal, and Pakistan. In such a politically charged region, developing tools that are open, accessible and widely used is a critical part of improved water management. Our primary partner in the region, the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), has long experience in working with the hydrological and meteorological agencies of these governments to improve skills, collaboration and cooperation.

The developed hydrological model provides the means to estimate and monitor cryospheric melt and its impact on streamflow at a daily resolution. This tool is especially valuable in a region that is marked by extreme inter- and intra-annual variability in streamflow, influenced by the duration and intensity of precipitation events, temperature change, and annual snow-pack levels. Across the Himalayan region, population centers are directly impacted by abrupt and extreme climate change events that affect hydrological flow, including the occurrence of GLOF (Glacier Lake Outburst Flood) events. Therefore, there is a critical need for climate monitoring tools across the region that can be used at the local institutional level. We developed the GEOStreamFlowMonitoring tool that can be implemented by local institutions to examine climate variability and prepare for emergency hazards. In this talk we will outline our project and discuss the development of our hydrological model, international collaborations, and implementation across various social, political, and science sectors.