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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 01 Nov 2017

Research article | 01 Nov 2017

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Projection of future glacier and runoff change in Himalayan headwater Beas basin by using a coupled glacier and hydrological model

Lu Li1, Yukun Hou3, Chong-Yu Xu2, Hua Chen3, and Sharad K. Jain4 Lu Li et al.
  • 1Uni Research Climate, Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Jahnebakken 5, 5007 Bergen
  • 2Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Norway
  • 3Wuhan University, Wuhan, China
  • 4National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, India

Abstract. The Himalayan Mountains are the source region of one of the world's largest supplies of freshwater. The changes in glacier melt may lead to droughts as well as extreme rains and floods in the Himalaya basins, which are vulnerable to the hydrological impacts. This study used a glacio-hydrological model: Glacier and Snow Melt – WASMOD model (GSM-WASMOD) for the hydrological projections under 21st century climate change by two RCMs under two Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP4.5 and RCP 8.5) in order to assess the future water change at the Himalayan Beas basin. In addition, the glacier extent loss of the 21st Century from eight GCMs was also investigated as part of the glacio-hydrological modelling as an ensemble simulation.

The glacio-hydrological modeling shows that at present, the annual glacier imbalance accounts for about 14% of the total runoff in this area. Under Climate change impact, the temperature will increase 0.95°C (RCP4.5) and 1.67°C (RCP8.5) for the early future (2046–2055), and increase 1.53°C (RCP4.5) and 3.4°C (RCP8.5) for the late future (2090–2099). The glacier area loss is about 47% (RCP4.5) and 49% (RCP8.5) for the early future and 73% (RCP4.5) and 80% (RCP8.5) for the late future. This will result in a decrease in river runoff in general for all the scenarios. The heaviest decrease of Beas river runoff can be observed in August under RCP4.5 and in May under the RCP8.5 for both the near future and far future. This maximum decrease of river runoff also has the largest spread. Furthermore, a high resolution WRF precipitation suggested a much heavier winter precipitation over high altitude area in the Himalaya Beas river basin. The study helps to understand the hydrological impacts of climate change in North India and make a contribution to stakeholders and policy makers with respect to the future of water resources in North India.

Lu Li et al.
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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Lu Li et al.
Lu Li et al.
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Short summary
The study used a coupled glacio-hydrological model for the hydrological projections of a Himalayan headwater Beas basin under 21st century climate change. The results show that glacier loss will result in a significant decrease in river runoff at pre-monsoon and monsoon period. A high-resolution precipitation from Weather Research Forecasting model suggests a much higher winter precipitation over high altitude area, which is perhaps more representative of the precipitation in the study area.
The study used a coupled glacio-hydrological model for the hydrological projections of a...