Regional Training on Glacio-hydrological Modelling in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

Date 16 May 2017 to 23 May 2017
Venue ICIMOD, Kathmandu, Nepal
Contact Persons Achala Sharma
Type Training
Programmes Indus Basin, River Basins

The Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) is highly dynamic as there are many socioeconomic and environmental drivers of change at play, including climate change. The impacts of these changes challenge the resilience of natural and human capacities and environments in the region. Climate change is believed to contribute to extreme weather events and possibly to increase the frequency and magnitude of natural hazards and associated disasters, exacting high economic and social costs. Recent studies have shown that the Himalayan region and the downstream areas that depend on its water supply and ecosystem services—including the Indo-Gangetic plain, ‘the grain basket of South Asia’—are particularly vulnerable to climate change. The roles snow, glacier, precipitation, and groundwater play in relation to water resources of the HKH and the possible impact of climate change on water resources and overall water availability have become matters of great concern. Hydrological models provide important insight into the different components of the hydrological cycle at high temporal and spatial resolutions. They also provide an experimental basis for understanding the impact of change in environmental conditions such as climate and land use. The information and knowledge generated from the application of these models help planners and policy makers make informed decisions for sustainable water resources management.

Hydrologic modelling to predict and forecast streamflow and account for overall water availability is an expressed need in the HKH. Currently, several modeling studies are underway using a variety of hydrologic systems. Understanding the landscape of current modeling approaches and systems is useful for determining targeted applications to address user defined needs. The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) collaborated with FutureWater (the Netherlands) to develop a state-of-the-art model called Spatial Processes in Hydrology (SPHY). The SPHY has been developed using the best available components of existing models resulting in a simulation model that is (i) flexible in scaling, (ii) includes cryosphere, mountain hydrology, low land hydrology, and land surface processes, (iii) is in the public domain, and (iv) can be linked to remote sensing. In 2014 we came out with an assessment which provides insights into the relative roles of snow, glacier, precipitation, and groundwater in relation to water resources and future glacier and water availability scenarios in upstream parts of the Indus, Ganga, Brahmaputra, Salween and Mekong basins. The SPHY model was published in the international scientific journal, Geoscientific Model Development, and a model code was made available in public domain. The model is constantly under improvement. With the addition of a better modules interface and pre and post processing facilities, ICIMOD intends to make this model accessible to its partner institutions in the region. SPHY trainings were conducted in 2014 and 2015. This proposed training is the third in the series and makes use of the latest released version of the SPHY model. The input data used in the preprocessor tool is also updated to the most recent version.

Similarly, ICIMOD is developing different applications and services which use hydrological modelling as important components. The Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model is one such model which has been extensively used in water resources as well as agricultural management research in Eastern and Southern Africa, and the Mekong region in Southeast Asia, among others. The VIC model has proven useful in the application of streamflow predictions and forecasting.

In this context, ICIMOD, in collaboration with Future Water and SERVIR’s NASA Science Coordination Office, is organizing a Regional Training on Hydrological Modelling in the Hindu Kush Himalaya using SPHY and VIC models for its partners focusing on a local river basin in the HKH for water resources, flood, and climate impact applications.


The overall objective of this training is to ensure that the SPHY and VIC models can be applied for specific contexts by a wider range of experts with basic hydrological and computer skills.

The primary goal of the training is that the participants will be able to provide improved services in water and water related disasters by building regional capacity in water resources management and flood monitoring/forecasting through hydrologic modeling workshops and the co-development of hydrologic models with end-users.