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Support of integrated water resources management by hydrological modelling and remote sensing of arid and semi-arid ecosystems in the Tarim basin

Research project BL/C/40 (Research action BL)

Contract BL/01/C40 :

Duration of the contract :


Partners :

  • Xinjiang Meteorological Administration 
  • Tarim Water Resources Management Bureau 
  • Chinese Academy of Sciences 
  • Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek 
  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven 

Description :

Context and objectives

The project aims to deliver a significant contribution to the water management problem solving in the Tarim river basin of the Xinjiang Province of the P.R. China. The Tarim river and basin forms one of the world’s largest closed hydrological drainage systems, forms ideal land for agriculture (e.g., cotton production), but suffers from reduced water availability. Since the 1950’s, excessive land reclamation, over-grazing, unreasonable utilization of water resources in the upper reaches of the basin in combination with temperature increase due to climate change, have intensified environmental deterioration. Since the 1970’s a strong dry-out of the lower region has been observed. This dry-out seriously deteriorated the basin’s downstream ecosystems, with an expanding desertification along the lower reaches of the river. In order to meet these problems, there is a strong need for integrated and sustainable water management planning in the region. The set-up of a comprehensive and integrated decision support system for the entire basin, based on linked hydrological and ecological models, is identified as a basic research need. The research project contributes to this, and will set up a prototype decision support system. The project activities are linked with the HELP Programme of UNESCO, which has the Tarim basin as one of the study areas.


In order to meet the objectives, the project will:
• develop a regional surface water model on the basis of lumped conceptual rainfall-runoff models and river hydraulic models;
• investigate the interaction between the surface and groundwater for a selected sub-region of the Tarim basin, based on a distributed hydrological model linked to a hydraulic river model;
• produce rainfall, evaporation, snow cover and depth, soil moisture and land use data based on earth observation techniques
• produce earth observation input data for the hydrological models;
• analyse indications of long-term changes in land cover over the Tarim basin, and investigate the impact of these changes on the hydrology of the basin with available remotely sensed data.

Documentation :

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