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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Impact of climate change on runoff from glaciers, snow and rainfall in the Pamir, and Hindu Kush mountains: A comparison of Amu Darya and Kabul River basins

PI: Fahimeh Salehi (, Green Social Research Organization
U.S. Partners: Ulrich Kamp, University of Montana, and Daniel Fagre, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Project Dates: December 2016 - December 2018

Project Overview:

5-183 PI Salehi at the Cryosphere conference
PI, Mrs Fahimeh Salehi, attending a conference on "State of the Cryosphere in Himalaya, gaps, challenges and opportunities” in Gangtok, India
The main objective of this project is to assess the role of glaciers, snow, and rainfall in the total stream flow of the Kabul and Amu Darya river basins. These rivers are transboundary waters, with Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan sharing the Amu Darya, and Afghanistan and Pakistan sharing the Kabul River Basin. Therefore, this project is intended to inform these countries in the face of climate change and economic growth. While the Amu Darya is believed to be heavily glacier-fed, the Kabul River Basin is believed to be heavily snow-fed as a result of climate change. This is an obvious challenge in the winter, as Afghanistan may face flooding, avalanches, flash floods, and the formation of glacier lakes and moraine lakes. In contrast, in summer the country experiences water scarcity. This PEER team will focus on these challenges and analyze the variation of river flows and climate change on sources of water in Afghanistan.  Through this project, Afghan and American researchers will work together to share knowledge, experience, and information. The Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water, Herat University, and the Herat engineering community will also be involved. 

Knowing that a primary goal of USAID/Afghanistan is to reduce extreme poverty, the researchers aim to promote economic growth by optimizing river flow management, helping to predict future climate-related disasters, and presenting alternatives for disaster mitigation and preparedness among the transboundary riparian countries. Information about transboundary water issues remains limited even at the university level, but this project will provide an opportunity for researchers, university faculty members, the engineering community, and policy makers to share knowledge and utilize the new technologies. This project can also contribute to improved government policies and programmatic decisions by creating and providing analytical research tools and policy recommendations. A broader impact of this project deals with hydro-power development, which is an intergovernmental issue with beneficiary countries on both rivers. Currently the hydro-power of both rivers remains undeveloped. If hydro-power plants are developed in the Amu Darya and Kabul River Basins, the water-energy nexus will become a reality and will require innovative public-private partnerships to bring mutual economic benefits. 

Summary of Recent Activities:

Principal Investigator, Fahimeh Salehi, recently participated in "State of the Cryosphere in Himalaya, gaps, challenges and opportunities” conference in Gangtok, India where she gave a talk on her PEER project results. She and her team also continued their data analysis include calculating the glacier melt component of the flow which can be used as reference data by decision makers/policy makers. In terms of capacity building activities, the team is also pursuing an online training on GIS/remote sensing administered by University of Montana.

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