The improved management and conservation of water resources is of major concern for environmental and economic reasons. There is a need for advanced hydrological models to optimize hydropower and water resources management, flood warning, environmental protection, and the design of reservoirs and other water-related constructions, as well as to understand the impacts of climate change on the water balance. The importance of water as the basic source for all life on earth has been recognised in the Environment and Climate Programme of the EU Framework IV. HYDALP is aimed at the further development of methods, at the generation of support tools, and at the demonstration of applications for runoff modelling and short term runoff forecasting in alpine and high latitude drainage basins, using remote sensing data and ground based measurements as input.
The project is aimed at the improvement of models for monitoring and forecasting river runoff in mountainous and high latitude basins where snowmelt is a major component of the water balance. Traditionally, input to hydrological models is obtained from point measurements of hydro-meteorological parameters, the representative nature of which is of key importance to the quality of runoff calculations. This is a serious problem in basins with pronounced topography because of the high spatial variability of hydro-meteorological parameters. Remote sensing offers the advantage of spatially distributed observations which in principle are more directly linked to runoff than point data, because measured runoff represents an areal integration over a drainage basin.
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