Contact Us  |  Search  
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research
Development, Security, and Cooperation
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About Us For Applicants For Grant Recipients Funded Projects Email Updates
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 - October 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:

During this period the following researchers prepared and submitted their reports on the specific topics:

Mr. Abdulhalim Zaryab presented information on the hydrology and hydrogeology of Kabul City that was collected from governmental and private organizations. In addition, in order to understand the hydrogeological characteristics of the Kabul shallow aquifer, pumping tests were conducted in cooperation with private companies (Geo Land and Diamond Companies). Moreover, all the required maps (map of water, map of net recharge, map of aquifer media, map of soil media, topography map, impact of vadose zone map, hydraulic conductivity map, TDS map, and vulnerability map of the Kabul aquifer) were provided in GIS environment. He also gave a presentation on the groundwater balance calculations to the Department of Hydrogeology’s engineers of the Ministry of Energy and Water of Afghanistan. He also gave two online presentations for KPU students and one press conference about groundwater management. He is planning to submit a manuscript to the Journal of Earth Environmental Sciences for review and publish.

Mr. Saiyed Nori visited several governmental organizations including the Afghanistan National Environmental Protection Agency and Afghanistan National Water Regelation Affaire Authority. In this meeting issues related to Afghan transboundary waters were discussed and along with quantitative and qualitative data regarding the Kabul River Basin currently being gathered.

Mr. Abdikaiym Zhiyenbek applied the developed hybrid model to the Kabul River Basin. The results have been uploaded to the group’s repository for review and use by other project researchers.

Mr. Qasim Mahdawi focused on techniques applied to identify groundwater recharge sites. Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) was used for locating best places. Nine criteria were considered which included: slope, land-use, geology, rainfall, distance from fault zones, drainage density, distance to river, depth to groundwater, soil texture. The above mentioned attributes were classification into four groups, including physical, climatic, hydrological and hydro-geological clusters. Gathered data were prepared in GIS environment, and based on pair wise comparisons, the preference of each cluster and its sub-criteria was determined. By combination of the layers using the Weighted Sum method in ArcGIS, unacceptable zones were ignored and the remaining zones were classified into several categories that show best places for artificial groundwater recharge.

Due to having reasonable amount of water resources in the Ghorband sub-basin, and available snow coverage there, Ms. Samira Burhani selected this area as study area to conduct research on hydrology modeling and water balance assessments in order to provide assessments for policy makers and water resources managers to plan appropriate water usage approaches. At the same time, the Ghorband sub-basin is a data scarce region, few observed hydrological and meteorological data sets are available to conduct the hydrologic SWAT modeling.

Mr. Tayib Bromand’s assignment was to use the SWAT model selected to simulate the hydrological components in the Middle Kabul River Basin. The main objective of this research assignment was to assess the applicability of the SWAT model to simulate the hydrology of the Kabul sub river basin and published in a peer review hydrological journal. The SWAT model was sited and ran for seven years in order to simulate the hydrology in the study area.

Mr. Muhammad Amin presented his research work which comprised of satellite observations used to monitor the duration of vegetation activity. Many validation efforts have been made to demonstrate the capability and accuracy of deriving vegetation phenology from satellite measurements.

Back to PEER Cycle 5 Grant Recipients