A step towards timely flood forecasting

Accurate estimates of rainfall are needed to forecast floods and droughts, and minimise their impacts. Until recently, the main method used to estimate rainfall in an area was interpolation of measurements from a network of hydro-meteorological stations.

The closer the spacing between stations, the more accurate the total rainfall estimate. In mountainous areas, however, measuring stations are often few and far between, and the available rainfall information is inadequate for forecasting floods with any certainty.

The Himalayan satellite rainfall estimation projects will help countries in the region to estimate rainfall better using satellite observations, and will assist the countries to build and enhance their capacity in rainfall estimation and applications. It is hoped that the improved rainfall estimates will contribute to enabling reliable and timely flood forecasts and warning, and contribute to minimising loss of life and property in the region.

A five-day workshop on 'Application of Satellite Rainfall Estimation in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region' concluded on Friday in Kathmandu, Nepal. Technical experts from national hydrological and meteorological services and academic institutions in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan were joined by experts from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Japan, to develop the application of satellite rainfall estimation methods in the countries of the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region.

The workshop was an important step towards improved forecasting of floods and monitoring of droughts by improving estimation of rainfall using advanced remote sensing tools. At present, rainfall measurements in the mountain regions of the extended Himalayan change are very limited as large parts of the region are poorly accessible and have limited infrastructure, and there are very few ground-based monitoring stations. But it is this rainfall that is mainly responsible for the downstream floods in South Asia.

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