Regional Water Security in the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region: Role of Geospatial Science and Tools
The Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region is the source of ten large Asian river systems – the Amu Darya, Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra (Yarlungtsanpo), Irrawaddy, Salween (Nu), Mekong (Lancang), Yangtse (Jinsha), Yellow River (Huanghe), and Tarim (Dayan), - and provides water, ecosystem services, and the basis for livelihoods to a population of around 0.2 billion people in the region. The river basins of these rivers provide water to 1.3 billion people, a fifth of the world’s population. Against this background, a comprehensive river basin program having current focus on the Koshi and Indus basins is launched at the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) as a joint scientific endeavour of several participating institutions from four regional countries of the HKH region. The river basin approach aims is to maximize the economic and social benefits derived from water resources in an equitable manner while conserving and, where necessary, restoring freshwater ecosystems, and improved understanding of upstream-downstream linkages. In order to effectively support river basin management satellite based multi sensor and multi temporal data is used to understand diverse river basin related aspects. We present here our recent experiences and results on satellite based rainfall and run off assessments, land use and land cover change and erosion dynamics, multi thematic water vulnerability assessments, space based data streaming systems for dynamic hydrological modelling, and potential applications of agent based models in effective local water use management.