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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)

Establishing a collaborative assessment of the impacts of climate change on the hydrological regime of the Langtang River Basin, central Nepal 

PI: Rijan Bhakta Kayastha, Kathmandu University
U.S. Partner: Mark W. Williams, University of Colorado
Project Dates: May 2012 - November 2014

Project Overview 

The Himalayas display great climatic variability, with the mountains acting as a barrier to atmospheric circulation for both the summer monsoon and winter westerlies. A substantial amount of the annual precipitation falls as snow, particularly at high altitudes, feeding the Himalayan glaciers. While about one-third of the world’s population depends to some degree on freshwater within the High Asia hydrological system, there is not enough data at present on river and stream flows, precipitation, and the contribution of seasonal snow and glacier melt to paint an accurate picture of the water resources there. The High Asia mountains funnel water into such major river basins as the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Indus, Amu Darya, and Syr Darya. The contribution of glacier melt to the major rivers in the region is unknown, with estimates ranging from 2 to 50 percent. Climate change is currently taking place and is projected to compound the pressure on natural resources and the environment associated with rapid urbanization, industrialization, population growth, and economic development. It will potentially have profound and widespread effects on the availability of and access to water resources.
This project focuses on the hydrological regime of the Langtang River Basin in Nepal. It will include data analysis and field measurements of discharge, glacio-hydrological modeling, and estimation of future water availability in the river basin. The modeling results will be verified using geochemical and water isotope tracer techniques studies developed at the National Science Foundation-funded Niwot Ridge Long-Term Ecological Research, which allow researchers to follow water as it courses through mountain landscapes. Expected results of this project will be improved understanding of the hydrological regime of the basin and enhanced prediction of future water availability. It should also promote research capacity building for the Nepalese participants and contribute to helping relevant Nepalese government agencies improve their capabilities in water resources planning and implementation.
Summary of Recent Activities
The research team continued their training and outreach program during October through December 2013. In early October Dr. Rijan Bhakta Kayastha, principal investigator of the PEER project, attended the PEER Science Participants' conference in Bangkok, Thailand, which was aimed at facilitating networking among current PEER Science PIs based in Asia and USAID representatives. Dr. Kayastha attended the International Conference on Climate Change, Water Resources and Disasters in Mountainous Regions held in Kathmandu, Nepal during November 27 – 29, 2013. Jointly organized by the Society of Hydrologists and Meteorologists-Nepal (SOHAM-Nepal), Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), Government of Nepal (GoN), and United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization International Hydrological Programme Nepal (UNESCO IHP-Nepal) in association with Department of Irrigation/Adaptation to Global Change in Agricultural Practices (DoI/AGloCAP), International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) and International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the conference drew scientists, engineers, planners, development workers as well as experts in related fields providing a platform for presenting their research outcomes, findings, and innovative ideas. At the conference, Dr. Kayastha gave a presentation on his PEER project, which is being implemented by Himalayan Cryosphere, Climate and Disaster Research Center (HiCCDRC). During December 16-17, 2013, HiCCDRC organized a workshop on mountain hydrology and water chemistry for 17 students. The U.S. partner of the PEER Science project, Prof. Mark W. Williams attended the workshop as well. Going forward PEER Science grant research assistant Ms. Ahuti Shrestha will attend "The International Young Researchers Workshop on River Basin Environment and Management" to be held from 8-9 February 2014 at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand. The PI, Dr. Rijan Bhakta Kayastha is planning to visit his U.S. partner at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in April 2014.  During his trip, Dr. Kayastha will visit Prof. Mark William's Niwot Ridge Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site in Colorado Mountains and will give a presentation on his PEER Science project at the Western Snow Conference in Durango, Colorado. A field visit to Langtang Valley for discharge measurement is scheduled for April 2014 as well.

  Indonesia Partnership Picture B

  Indonesia Partnership Picture C
Tracer injecting in Langtang River during discharge measuring field visit (Photo courtesy Rijan Kayastha). Inaugural workshop at Kathmandu University (Photo courtesy Rijan Kayastha).

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