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Cycle 5 (2015 Deadline)

Satellite enhanced snowmelt flood and drought predictions for the Kabul River basin with surface and groundwater modeling

PI: Mohammad Najaf (, Kabul Polytechnic University, with co-PIs Jay Sagin, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan), and Muhammad Abid, COMSATS, (Pakistan)
U.S. Partner: Jennifer Jacobs, University of New Hampshire
Project Dates: March 2017 - May 2020

Project Overview:

The overall objectives of this research are to develop (1) the KRB flood prediction models using NASA satellite observations that capture the magnitude, timing, and spatial distribution of watershed scale snowmelt parameters; and (2) combined surface and ground water modeling and prediction analyses. The project aims to develop the integrated surface and groundwater modeling for the transboundary (Pakistan upstream and Afghanistan downstream) Kabul River Basin (KRB) with satellite enhanced snowmelt flood and drought predictions. The researchers will apply advanced NASA satellite data to track snow, snow melting, floods, surface water coverage, and droughts over the KRB. They will adapt cost-effective approaches using remote sensing data, with expertise provided by the U.S. partner Dr. Jacobs, based on her experience working on the NASA-supported project "Satellite Enhanced Snowmelt Flood Predictions in the Red River of the North Basin, USA." A lack of accurate snow depth and snow water equivalent data, and a lack of understanding of snowmelt processes and soil infiltration during soil freeze and thaw events in the KRB inhibit the ability to improve flood predictions. This project will improve the models by using satellite observations that capture the magnitude, timing, and spatial distribution of watershed-scale snowmelt parameters, as well as antecedent soil conditions. Most of the existing water-related research models were developed with separate components for the surface water and the groundwater, but this project will combine them into a more comprehensive model, which should facilitate better prediction analyses.

Beyond the expected capacity building impacts for project participants and improved modeling technologies, the project should promote better regional transboundary water cooperation outside of high-level intergovernmental channels by providing a platform for interactions among academia and community-level water management structures from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and the United States. University-led forums will be organized to promote improved sustainable management of shared water resources within the context of climate change in Central and South Asia. The project will also involve under-represented groups, including support for the Society of Women Engineers in Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan

Summary of Recent Activities:

In this first quarter of 2019, Mr. Saye Momin Nori, the Kazakhstan MS research student from Afghanistan, spent one month was in Kabul where he worked on the data-gathering activities and on the promotion and adaptation of NASA JPL GPS GNSS technologies with Prof. Najaf’s research group. Mr. Daud Hamidi, another Kazakhstan MS research student from Afghanistan, was accepted into the PhD study program in Durham University, UK. He worked on the cooperative program with CAREC ECO, focusing on the team cooperation expansion, data-gathering activities, MIKE SHE integrated modeling, and preparing for the US trip to meet the US PEER partner consultant Dr. Devendra Amatya, from April 20-May 5, 2019.

The team also prepared for the Central Asian Student Research Competition related to Integrated Water Recourse Management in cooperation with the Central Asian Journal of Water Research (CAJWR) and CAREC ECO. MS students Mr. Mohammad Hussain Shahrullah and Mr. Mohammad Najim Nasimi from Afghanistan were winners of the competition and presented the research work on Afghanistan water resources and the Kabul River Basin, April 2-4, 2019. The team also prepared for the Water Pollution and Climate Change workshop, which will be held in Astana on April 16-17, 2019, in cooperation with Durham University, Great Britain.

In the coming months, the team plans to visit U.S. consultant Dr. Devendra Amatya and participate in the 2019 Watershed and Stormwater Conference to expand cooperation with U.S. experts, visit the WS77 watershed and meet with hydrologists, give a seminar to Master of Environmental Studies Program students at College of Charleston, work on hydro modeling for a case study watershed, and finalize the manuscript on the Kabul River Basin integrated model. In addition, the team plans to host NASA Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) workshops and sustain their cooperation program and network with research partners in the UK, Germany, and Singapore. MS student researcher Sayed Momim Nori from Afghanistan has been invited to make a two-week study visit to the National Singapore University. Sayed should learn the water management systems in Singapore and meet with water management authorities in September 2019.

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