Sustaining Himalayan Water Resources in a Changing Climate (SusHi-Wat)

Lead Research Organisation: Cranfield University
Department Name: School of Water, Energy and Environment

Abstract

In this project, we propose to investigate how water is stored in, and moves through, a Himalayan river system (the inter-linked Beas and Sutjej catchments) in northern India at daily to decadal timescales and to use the resulting insights to develop and test a robust model of the whole system that can be used to inform current and future decision making to support the sustainable development and management of the region's water resources. Building on the success of the MICCI project (within the Changing Water Cycle - South Asia programme) in the region, the project will address user requirements centred on understanding and managing the effects of climatological and hydrological variability and socio-economic development on delivery of critical ecosystems services, notably the irrigation water supply-hydropower generation-flood risk management nexus.
A combination of state-of-the-art modelling, field studies, satellite-based remote sensing and observation will be developed to improve the process-based understanding of Himalayan water resources availability and quality, considering meteorology, surface-water, groundwater, seasonal snow, permanent snow/ice, soil and vegetation. These stores and flows will be considered within a 'whole-system' framework that explicitly recognises their inter-dependencies and interactions.
The improved understanding will be used to set-up, calibrate and validate a robust system model of the river basins using the widely used Water Evaluation And Planning (WEAP) software system. This model will integrate both 'natural' catchment processes and human modifications of the river basin system into account. These latter include irrigation, hydropower generation, and inter-basin water transfers. The whole system model will be used to understand how the impact of climate change, land-use change and population growth will affect water resources (including flood risk management), water demand (irrigation and public water demand) and inter-sectoral competition for water supply (for water transfers, irrigation and hydropower) through their interactions with the hydrological cycle. The results will be used to inform decision-making and support the sustainable development of India's water resources and hence long-term socio-economic growth
The project will involve collaboration between internationally-leading scientists at 4 Indian institutions (IIT-Roorkee; NIT- Hamirpur, National Institute of Hydrology-Roorkee and the Indian Institute of Science- Bangalore), 2 UK Universities (Heriot-Watt University and Cranfield University) and one UK research institute (British Antarctic Survey). It will build on an existing and thriving collaboration between many of the UK and Indian partners. We will work with key regional and national stakeholders in India (farmers, agricultural advisers, river basin management board and the national farmers association) to ensure the relevance and impact of the research.

Planned Impact

In this project, our research will inform the understanding and management of the effects of climatological and hydrological variability and socio-economic development on delivery of critical ecosystems services, notably the irrigation water supply-hydropower generation-flood risk management nexus, in the Indian Himalayan region. It will build on the success and pre-existing stakeholder links of the MICCI project (within the Changing Water Cycle - South Asia programme) in the region. This will ensure that our activities complement and contribute to the overarching Impact and Knowledge Exchange plan of the 'Sustaining Water Resources for Food, Energy & Ecosystem Services in India' programme
At the strategic level, a wide range of Indian organisations at State to National level with responsibility for policy and practice in relation to water and natural resources, rural development and food security will benefit. These include the National and State Ministries of Agriculture, Rural Development, Earth Sciences, Environment and Forest and the Bkahra-Beas Management Board (who operate and regulate the supply of water and power from the Pong and Bhakra reservoirs).
Important beneficiaries regarding the improvement in consumptive use of water are small scale, rural Indian farmers who depend on rainfed and irrigated agriculture for their livelihoods, for whom the research will contribute towards improved practices of sustainable irrigation management production that are more resilient to future environmental change. We have pre-existing stakeholder relationships from MICCI with the State Agricultural Extension Services and the All India Farmers Association.
Users involved in research to improve our understanding of how climate change interacts with the global to regional water cycle, and the consequent impacts affecting humankind and ecosystems will also benefit from the research outcomes. These include researchers on water resource modelling, rural development, aquatic ecology, surface water quality etc.
A number of activities are scheduled to achieve these impacts, including:
(1) Network development- participating research institutions in India will profit from enhanced technical capacities through close working relations with their UK counterparts while the UK researchers benefit through new knowledge gained from interactions with their Indian counterparts;
(2) Stakeholder engagement through creation of a multi-stakeholder platform that will link the research team and key end users in India and act as a focal point for a range of outreach and networking activities;
(3) Workshops- we will carry out 2 workshops with farmer organizations, central and state government irrigation agencies and agricultural extension advisers at the start and end of the project. These will provide valuable opportunities for two-way learning, allowing improved understanding of climate change impact and the need to improve irrigation practices and to ensure that the research produces contextually-relevant results to maximise impact;
(4)Site visits- We propose a 3 day UK study visit for representatives of the extension services in the State Department of Agriculture in our 4 states and research collaborators, featuring a workshop and site visits to commercial irrigated agriculture facilities mainly in Eastern England. The workshop will be designed and led by RTCS Ltd;
(5)Publications in peer-reviewed journals and presentation at learned conferences; and
(6) Website- dedicated websites will be developed on the UK and Indian institutional websites on which scientific and summary outputs from the project will be mounted.
 
Description 1) A preliminary whole system model of the Beas and Sutlej river basins have been developed using the WEAP software. This commercial software product was selected after review to ensure longevity through continued software maintainance and upgrade and due to the no-cost licences to Indian stakeholders. Our WEAP model represents all natural (snow/glaciers, catchments, groundwater aquifers) and man-made (reservoirs, in-river hydropower plants, water diversions, canals, irrigation command areas, towns etc) components of the riverbasins. Preliminary results have been positively presented at international conferences (ECCA 2017) and local stakeholders, and will be iteratively improved with insights and knowledge gained from stakeholders. 2) We have developed a data set contains a list of images (GeoTIFF format) corresponding to monthly maps of dry snow and wet snow to provide an improved understanding of how water is stored in, and moves through, Beas and Sutlej river basins in northern India. The maps were obtained by the novel data fusion of satellite remote sensing data from radar-based images acquired using Sentinel-1 and the visible spectrum images from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS).
Exploitation Route We hope that in time the Bakra-Beas Management Board will adopt or WEAP whole system model to improve their strategic management of climate change impacts- early impressions are positive. The monthly maps of dry snow and wet snow and the associated novel methodology provide an improved understanding of snow melt dynamics and could potentially improve hydrological simulations compared to existing meothds that largely use snow covered area data which cannot differentiate between dry and wet (melting) snow.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy,Environment

URL https://doi.org/10.17862/cranfield.rd.5845449
 
Description A very successful stakeholder workshop held at the Bakra-Beas Managemetn Board (BBMB) in the presence of the BBMB Chief Executive. BBMB operate the major hydropower plants and provide irrigation water to downstream users. The workshop resulted in a stated interest in adapting the final Sushi-Wat whole system model to support longer term strategic decision making (which is not addressed by their current real time DSS system). BBMB have recently set-up a small climate change cell who we are engaging with to improve the organisational understanding of climate change and its consequences for BBMB and its users
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Title Monthly maps of dry snow and wet snow for a Himalayan river basin 
Description The data set contains a list of images (GeoTIFF format) corresponding to monthly maps of dry snow and wet snow for a Himalayan river basin. The maps were obtained by the novel data fusion of satellite remote sensing data from Sentinel-1 and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2018 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact None as, whilst data page is visible, the data is currently under temporary embargo whilst associated paper is under peer review 
 
Description India-UK Water Centre's Open Call for Researcher Exchanges 
Organisation Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee
Country India 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Jointly wrote exchange proposal to deliver joint research activities and manuscript
Collaborator Contribution Jointly wrote exchange proposal to deliver joint research activities and manuscript
Impact This researcher exchange was awarded funding - the focus is on utilising our knowledge of integrating ecosystem services and hydrological modelling with Indian hydrological . Cranfield hosted Dr Sumit Sen for a study visit in 2017, and Dr Andrea Momblanch is shortly (March 2018) to visit Dr Sen in IIT Roorkee to continue the collaboration
Start Year 2017
 
Description Invitation to Leeds University GCRF Hub consortium 
Organisation Anglia Ruskin University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Core team member of the Leeds University led GCRF Hub proposal on managing extreme hydrometeorological events in the Himalayan region. Contributed to the agricultural modelling and adaptive capacity components of the proposal (worth (£612K @ 100% FEC), building on Sushi-Wat and MICCI activity in the region. Unfortunately proposal was not funded
Collaborator Contribution Developed consortium; hosting consortium proposal writing meeting; writing GCRF Hub proposal
Impact Proposal was not funded, so no outcomes
Start Year 2017
 
Description Invitation to Leeds University GCRF Hub consortium 
Organisation British Antarctic Survey
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Core team member of the Leeds University led GCRF Hub proposal on managing extreme hydrometeorological events in the Himalayan region. Contributed to the agricultural modelling and adaptive capacity components of the proposal (worth (£612K @ 100% FEC), building on Sushi-Wat and MICCI activity in the region. Unfortunately proposal was not funded
Collaborator Contribution Developed consortium; hosting consortium proposal writing meeting; writing GCRF Hub proposal
Impact Proposal was not funded, so no outcomes
Start Year 2017
 
Description Invitation to Leeds University GCRF Hub consortium 
Organisation University of Leeds
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Core team member of the Leeds University led GCRF Hub proposal on managing extreme hydrometeorological events in the Himalayan region. Contributed to the agricultural modelling and adaptive capacity components of the proposal (worth (£612K @ 100% FEC), building on Sushi-Wat and MICCI activity in the region. Unfortunately proposal was not funded
Collaborator Contribution Developed consortium; hosting consortium proposal writing meeting; writing GCRF Hub proposal
Impact Proposal was not funded, so no outcomes
Start Year 2017
 
Description Chandigargh stakeholder workshop (Feb 2018) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Stakeholder workshop hosted by the Bakra-Beas Management Board (BBMB), attended by the Chief Executive of the BBMB to discuss Sushi-Wat progress. Attendees represented the irrigation and hydropower sectors from Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. Much two-way discussion and feedback. BBMB Chief Executive suggested MOU to fomrlaise relationship between Sushi-Wat and BBMB to support uptake of outputs (and training) within the organisation. Stated willingness of participants to contribute to further discussions on system model representation to ensure local stakeholder knowledge is built into Sushi-Wat. Follow-up visits arranged in March 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description In-depth discussions with local irrigation and hydropower stakeholders 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Field visit to engage with local stakeholders in the irrigation and hydropower sectors in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana in order to refine and improve set-up of the whole system model of the Beas-Sutlej systems. Detailed discussions and model feedback ensures that the whole system model accurately reflects local (unreported) water management practices and operation; and therefore increases stakeholder utility of the final model
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description MoES-NERC mid-term review 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of research progress and outcomes to NERC-Ministry of Earth Science review panel. Questions and discussions demonstrated that the collaborative research programme in meeting objectives
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation at European Climate Change Adaptation conference 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Oral presentation on "Trading-off the water-food-energy-environment nexus under climate change in northern India" generated questions regarding the relative prioritisation and decision making associated with trade-offs when adapting water resource system management approaches.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017