The Contribution to High Asia Runoff from Ice and Snow, or CHARIS, project is systematically assessing the role that glaciers and seasonal snow play in the freshwater resources of High Asia. This assessment is crucial to help forecast the future availability and vulnerability of water resources.
Since its inception in 2012, The CHARIS project has:
- Established 11 partnerships in 8 countries
- Organized five training workshops
- Funded the restoration of glacier research hut at the Kara Batkak glacier, Tien-Shan High Mountain Research Center field project, Kyrgyzstan
- Funded the establishment of a state of the art water chemistry lab at Sherubtse College, Royal University of Bhutan
Capacity Building in 2016
CHARIS Socioeconomic Field Research in Kyrgyzstan
From July 21 to August 6, 2016, Cholpon Minbaeva, University of Colorado CHARIS team member, conducted field studies in Kyrgyzstan, working directly with Rysbek Satylkanov, CHARIS partner in Kyrgyzstan and his team. She conducted local scale surveys in communities in the Naryn and Kyzyl Suu river basins and in the Ala Archa region. The goal was to identify socioeconomic changes in the last 15 years in relation to changes in river conditions regarding irrigation, food, flood, recreation, and water access, and to examine any corresponding changes in household activities and income structure. Preliminary results show that even though the price of water increases in downstream communities, at some point the price of water is secondary compared to the much bigger issues faced by the communities in the modified river basins such as scarcity of water, land and funds, and lack of trust in government. As a result, survey respondents in the modified river basin communities indicated that there were no major socioeconomic changes for the better within their communities in the last 15 years.
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Central Asia Cross Boundary Water Sampling
CHARIS graduate students at the University of Colorado Boulder, Alice Hill and Alana Wilson, conducted physical hydrologic field methods training and data collection in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia, in summer 2016. The objective of the water sampling field methods is to use the unique chemistry signatures of different source waters to estimate how much snow melt and glacier ice melt each contribute to river discharge. Their work targeted representative sub-basins in the Amu Darya and Syr Darya river catchments, filling a geographic gap in the CHARIS domain that to date had not had sufficient water chemistry data.
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Two types of melt models are being tested and compared: temperature index and energy balance. Melt model calibration is undertaken through work with specific “calibration basins” for which we have sufficient river discharge data to calibrate and validate the models. The separate contribution to discharge from seasonal snow and glacier ice for each of the five primary CHARIS basins will then be determined by model runs that have been tuned using that basin’s calibration basin or basins.
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CHARIS scientists have presented project research at meetings of:
- American Geophysical Union (AGU)
- European Geosciences Union and (EGU)
- International Union for Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG)
- and numerous other scientific meetings, including CHARIS partner training workshops.
Peer-reviewed scientific papers by CHARIS scientists and partners have been published in numerous journals.
The Contribution to High Asia Runoff from Ice and Snow, or CHARIS, project aims to systematically assess the role that glaciers and seasonal snow play in the freshwater resources of High Asia. This assessment will be crucial in helping to forecast the future availability and vulnerability of water resources.