Assessing components of the natural environment of the Upper Danube and Upper Brahmaputra river basins
A comprehensive understanding of the interplay between the natural environment and the human dimension is one of the prerequisites to successful and sustaining IWRM practises in large river basins such as the Upper Brahmaputra river basin or the Upper Danube river basin. These interactions, their dynamics and changes, and the likely future scenarios were investigated in the BRAHMATWINN project with a series of tools from remote sensing and geoinformatics. An integrated assessment of main components of the natural environment in the two river basins as well as in five reference catchments within those basins, has led to the delineation of hydrological response units (HRUs). HRUs are spatial units bearing a uniform behaviour in terms of the hydrological response regime, as a function of physical parameters land use, soil type, water, vegetation cover and climate. Besides the delineated HRUs which are available in a spatially exhaustive manner for all reference catchments, the following information were provided as spatial layers: (1) uniform digital surface models of both the twinned basins and the reference catchments; (2) glacier areas and the magnitude of glacier loss; (3) mountain permafrost distribution and identification of areas particularly affected by permafrost thaw; (4) a consistent land use/land cover information in all reference catchments; and (5) the vulnerabilities of wetlands and groundwater in terms of anthropogenic impact and climate change.