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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 past quarter, the research team conducted fieldwork for water and snow sampling, and completed physical and chemical analysis. The Ii also collected meteorological and hydrological data which was processed numerically to determine trends and generate material for upcoming publications. The team members also met with representatives of local NGOs to discuss and share the project results and currently preparing for an upcoming conference in Dushanbe.

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