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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Interstate water resource risk management: towards a sustainable future for the Pyanj River basin

PI: Rano Eshankulova (, Institute of Water Problems, Hydropower, and Ecology, Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan
U.S. Partner: Mark Williams, University of Colorado Boulder
Project Dates: December 2016 - November 2019

Project Overview:

Assuming a temperature increase of 2°C until 2050 and no change in precipitation, the ice reserves in the Pyanj River Basin, the catchments to be studied in this project, will decline at an accelerated rate. Considering the dense concentration of glaciers in the Pyanj River Basins and its inflows, it should be expected that the warmer climate and melting of glaciers would lead to new mud streams. Therefore, in order to address the expected climate-related hazards, it is necessary to improve our science-based understanding of the nature and magnitude of physical and biophysical impacts of climate change under different scenarios. It will be important to gain a better understanding several important climate change indicators, as well as key aspects of vulnerability impacts on development and potential adaptation measures. Developing an evidence-based approach to solving these problems requires the creation of extensive and rich hydrometeorological database on the selected river basin. Ensuring sustainable water and glacier management, it is also important to have reliable information on present and future water-snow-glacier scenarios and their evolution in relation to global change, human activities, and climate evolution affecting the hydrological and melting regime of glaciers of the Pyanj river basin. This team of researchers will focus on creating a database on the results of direct measurements and observations in order to predict more accurately the development processes against the backdrop of global climate change.

USAID has previously provided support to the Tajik weather and water-forecasting agency so that they can better predict the amount of water available for irrigation each year, which enables water management authorities to release the optimum amount of water and reserve the rest for generating electricity. The purpose, objectives, and expected results of this project align with those previous efforts and should contribute to sustainable development in the region. The collection of reliable data about the state of glaciers in the Pyanj River Basin should help in developing methods and approaches for the prevention and mitigation of extreme hydrological situations. According to the Asian Development Bank, there were 290 such water-related emergencies over the past 20 years in the Pyanj Basin. The results from the isotope hydrology study of the rivers of the Pyanj Basin to be obtained as part of this project can make an essential contribution to the creation of more broadly applicable models. Such models are essential to describe processes in the cryosphere, the hydrosphere of mountain regions, water flow dynamics, and ways of protecting and rationally using water resources. The results of the project should be of considerable interest to downstream countries along the Amu Darya River, such as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, because since they should help predict more accurately the dynamics of water flow changes in the Pyanj River, one of the main tributaries of the Amu Darya rivers. To help disseminate the information gained in the project, the researchers will compile information sheets on the monitoring of emergencies in the Pyanj Basin and distribute them to the local population.

Summary of Recent Activities:

During the reporting period, the data from the meteorological stations of Parkhar (362m), Khorog (2,075m), Fedchenko Glacier (4,169m), and Murgab (3,576m) of four climatic zones of the Pyanj River basin were collected. According to the data from meteorological stations, the change trends of temperature and precipitation for the period 1934-2014 was established. The patterns of change in the trend of atmospheric precipitation were studied depending on climatic zones of the Pamir Mountain. The orography influence of the terrain on the amount of precipitation was studied. The route scheme of the expedition, planned for July-August 2017 to the Pyanj River basin for the sampling of water and snow cover, was developed.

During the reporting period, two presentations were made at the International Conference in Nepal, two presentations at the World Water Congress in Mexico, and three presentations at the Republican Scientific and Practical Conference.

In the next 6 months, two fieldwork expeditions are planned. The first trip will be upstream of the Pyanj River for sampling water from the tributaries of the Pyanj River for chemical and isotope analysis and gathering of new meteorological data. The second expedition will head downstream of the Pyanj River on the border with Afghanistan to familiarize the team with the state of the local meteorological stations, as well as sampling water for chemical and isotope analysis. This project team will join with Dr. Normatov’s project (4-256) to hold short courses for young researchers and students of the Department of Meteorology and Climatology and the Department of Ecology of the Tajik Technical University on the methodology for carrying out isotope analyzes.

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