Unveiling Central Asia's Hidden Hydrological Treasures: CA-discharge, a Novel Data Compilation

A collection of geo-located river runoff time series in mountainous Central Asia.
Published in Research Data

Today, we're here to share some intriguing insights from the realm of hydrology, and trust us, it's a development worth noting. We've recently published a data compilation in Nature Scientific Data, shedding new light on the complex hydrological patterns of mountainous Central Asia.

So, what's the story behind this data collection? In essence, we've curated a repository of 295 gauge locations across this captivating region. But here's the twist – we've assembled time series data on river discharge from 135 of these gauges. These valuable records have been painstakingly extracted from hydrological yearbooks in Central Asia. The data spans a range of temporal resolutions, including monthly, 10-day, and daily, covering various durations.

Overview over discharge locations with norm discharge as well as with or without time series data available in the CA-discharge data set.

Now, before we delve deeper, it's important to recognize the immense groundwork carried out by the dedicated Hydromets (Hydrometeorological agencies) in Central Asia. They're the unsung heroes responsible for collecting and maintaining the primary data, without which our project would not have been possible.

Ala Archa discharge monitoring station south of Bishkek in spring 2023.

Our role in this venture was to compile and structure this existing wealth of data. Moreover, we've supplemented it with third-party data that provides crucial context, allowing for a more comprehensive basin characterization around these gauge locations.

Quality assurance is a cornerstone of our work. To ensure the reliability of our dataset, we subjected the time series to a battery of standard quality checks. Furthermore, we cross-verified our norm discharge values with those found in existing literature and employed a water balance approach for additional validation.

What sets our data apart is its uniqueness. This comprehensive fusion of discharge time series and gauge locations for mountainous rivers in Central Asia is indeed a rarity in the field of hydrology. 

Now, let's talk applications. This geographically tagged discharge time series is more than just numbers and graphs. It's a valuable resource for researchers, water resource managers, and environmentalists alike. It opens up avenues for water balance modeling and the training of forecast models for river runoff in the challenging terrain of mountainous Central Asia.

Picture a scenario where we can predict river flows more accurately, prepare for floods and droughts with greater precision, and make informed decisions about sustainable water resource management. The CA-discharge data set has the potential to make all of this possible.

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