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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
During the third period of 2014, one of Dr. Kayastha’s team members, Anisha Tuladhar, attended the International Conference on Forests, Soil and Rural Livelihoods in a Changing Climate in Dhulikhel, Kavre, Nepal. In this three day conference beginning September 27, Ms. Tuladhar won the award for best poster with her presentation of “Hydro-Chemical Analysis of the Langtang River, Langtang Valley, Rasuwa District, Nepal.” The team also submitted two abstracts for the 'International Symposium on Glaciology in High-Mountain Asia to be held in March.

As this project concludes, Dr. Kayastha and his team have made plans to attend two events, a glacio-hydrological modeling training in November and their annual meeting in December.

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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