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Establishing Pir-Yakh Glacier as a benchmark glacier in Kabul basin, Afghanistan, November 2019

  • Summary

Strengthening Water Resources Management in Afghanistan (SWaRMA) is a two-year project supported by the Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW) – Government of Afghanistan and the Government of Australia, and implemented by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization (CSIRO). The project aims to strengthen water resource management in Afghanistan and implement a sustainable, long-term cryosphere monitoring programme in Afghanistan. This programme will evaluate available data on hydro-meteorological variables in catchments with snow and glacier.

MEW, with technical support from ICIMOD, installed the first-ever automatic weather station (AWS) at 4,528 masl near Pir-Yakh Glacier in Paryan District, Panjshir Province, Afghanistan, in August 2019. This station has the ability to capture eight meteorological parameters: precipitation, air temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, barometric pressure, wind speed, wind direction, and gust speed. The AWS will improve understanding of meteorological parameters in relation to the¬¬ snow and ice melt runoff from the glacier.

A field expedition was organized by SWaRMA in August 2019 to install a hydro-met station consisting of one AWS, three rain gauge sensors and one pressure level sensor. The expedition team also conducted glacier mass balance analysis and stake network extension on Pir-Yakh Glacier. For accurate data collection on different elevation bands along the Upper Chomar valley up to the glacier, the team installed three rain gauge (RG3) and air temperature sensors. Data from these sensors will aid advanced modelling and water availability analysis of the catchment.

Five stakes have been installed at Pir-Yakh Glacier’s accumulation and oblation area. Depending on the issue being studied, these stakes, along with the AWS, are used to identify the water balance, discharge coefficient, surface and volume changes, glacier movement, glacier mass balance, and snow water equivalent. The lowest stake is at 4,400 masl and the highest at 4,880 masl, with each stake at a 100-m elevation difference.


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  • Publisher Name:
    International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)
  • Publisher Place:
    Kathmandu, Nepal