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Snow and ice melt modeling

Region where the HIMALA research project will operate. Three specific river basins were selected for implementing the model first: Koshi, Manas, and Jehlum. These sub-basins are part of transboundary rivers that flow through more than one country. Credit: NASA GoddardRegion where the HIMALA research project will operate. Three specific
river basins were selected for implementing the model first: Koshi, Manas,
and Jehlum. These sub-basins are part of transboundary rivers that flow
through more than country. Credit: NASA GSFC
As we deal with rising temperatures, snowmelt and glacier melt play increasingly important roles in hydrologic processes, acting as contributors to water supply, erosion, and flood events. Accounting for melt contribution to stream flow is critical for improved water resource management and flood protection in regions characterized by an abundance of snow and ice.

For example, the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region, one of the largest resources of snow and ice, acts as a freshwater reservoir for more than 1.3 billion people in Asia. SSAI staff helped NASA scientists to build a modeling system to assess water availability and improve understanding of snow and ice melt contribution to stream flow in the HKH region. The resulting modeling system, HIMALA BASINS, works within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Better Assessment Science Integrating Point and Nonpoint Sources (BASINS) watershed management tool, uses satellite-based products, and integrates the UEBGrid energy balance model, developed at Utah State University, with the USGS Geospatial Streamflow Model. The BASINS system represents an ideal environment to house these models, since it encompasses a preexisting suite of hydrological models and supporting tools and data relevant to HIMALA project goals. Because it is built using the open-source MapWindow Geographic Information System, it provides an easily accessible, cost-free system for all to use.

SSAI is proud to have assisted its customers in the creation of an end-to‐end, easy-to-use GUI-based hydrological tool to model both snow and glacier-melt water contributions to stream flow. The system will help to enhance decision-making capabilities for water resource management in the short and long term.