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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 (deceased), 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 - December 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.

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The project team meets with the local populace at various locations while also conducting fieldwork and site sampling (photos courtesy of Dr. Sagin).

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

Overall Project Activities

This project concluded on December 31, 2020 and accomplished its goals to develop Kabul River Basin flood prediction models, and combined surface and ground water modeling and prediction analyses. The research outputs were shared with local stakeholders and published in a series of published in a series of 12 peer-reviewed articles. The data and conclusions are also available on the project website, as is a list of over 30 early career researchers who received training and practical experience in water resources, and set up the regional cooperation network with the joint publication works.

The research outputs were also adapted for the user friendly localized TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) programs and used for training purposes. The TVET support program will continue and we targeted to set a similar support program in cooperation with the Central Asia University Partnerships Program (UniCEN) and the Know Your Well program run by the University of Nebraska Lincoln.

Moving forward, the project team will continue its work under the International Partnerships for Sustainable Innovations program. They are also expanding the practical applications of the research outputs and are in negotiations with the US Valmont Valley Corporation, which is planning to build irrigation factories in Central Asia. These sophisticated irrigation technologies require proper water resource studies in Central Asia, including Afghanistan but the countries are currently missing the proper irrigation TVET support programs. The project team hopes to connect their established partnership and USAID PEER research work outputs to the irrigation education program, and eventually prepare the user-friendly TVET support programs for farmers in Central Asia.

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