Major projects

Hydrology and climatology on the Tibetan plateau (CEOP-AEGIS)

Earth observation tower installed at the Mount Everest site (2009).
Earth observation tower installed at the Mount Everest site (2009).
Project location China
Starting date 01 May 2008
Completion date 30 April 2013
Client EU-FP7
Project leader Prof. Dr. Z. (Bob) Su
Project officer Bert Boer
Project type Contract research
Budget Euro 320,413

Coordinated Asia-European long-term observing system of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau;
hydro-meteorological processes and the Asian-monsoon system with ground satellite image data and numerical simulations.

Human life and the entire ecosystem of South East Asia depend upon the monsoon climate and its predictability. More than 40% of the earth's population lives in this region. Droughts and floods associated with the variability of rainfall frequently cause serious damage to ecosystems in these regions and, more importantly, injury and loss of human life.

The headwater areas of seven major rivers in South East Asia, i.e. Yellow River, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Irrawaddy, Brahmaputra and Ganges are located in the Tibetan Plateau. Estimates of the Plateau water balance rely on sparse and scarce observations that cannot provide the required accuracy, spatial density and temporal frequency. Fully integrated use of satellite and ground observations is necessary to support water resources management in South Asia Asia and to clarify the roles of the interactions between the land surface and the atmosphere over the Tibetan Plateau in the Asian monsoon system.

The goal of this project is to:

  1. Construct out of existing ground measurements and current / future satellites an observing system to determine and monitor the water yield of the Plateau, i.e. how much water is finally going into the seven major rivers of South East Asia; this requires estimating snowfall, rainfall, evapotranspiration and changes of soil moisture; 
  2. Monitor the evaluation of snow, vegetation cover, surface wetness and surface fluxes and analyze the linkage with convective activity, (extreme) precipitation events and the Asian monsoon; this aims at using monitoring of snow, vegetation and surface fluxes as a precursor of intense precipitation towards improving forecast of (extreme) precipitations in South East Asia.

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