Coupling of climate models with hydrological models for decadal projection of water resources over mountainous regions

Shaukat Ali, of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, and the Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC), Ministry of Climate Change, Islamabad, Pakistan, explores the performance and sensitivity of climate and hydrological models across the Himalayan region to project climatic and hydrological changes over the next ten years.

S. Ali

S. Ali


There are gaps in climate and hydrological modeling capability over mountainous regions especially the Hindu Kush and Himalayas. Glacier melt in the Himalayas is projected to increase flooding within the next two to three decades. This will be followed by decreased river flows as the glaciers recede (IPCC AR4 2007). Pakistan has been at a high risk of flooding for the last four years. In recent months the country has been under flood and 93 deaths have been reported. The Indus River Basin plays a significant role in the availability of water in Pakistan and most  floods occur in this Basin. About 60% of the inflow to Upper Indus Basin is contributed by glaciers melting. There is thus a need to study climatic and hydrological changes across the Himalayan region and Upper Indus Basin. The objective of this study is to explore the performance and sensitivity of climate and hydrological models across the Himalayan region for the projection of climatic and hydrological changes over the next ten years. 


The REGional Climate Model 4.3 (RegCM4.3) of ICTP and hydrological model of University of British Columbia (UBC) was used in this study. The RCM model was run at a horizontal resolution of 20 km with ERA-Interim15. Six different simulations were carried out for the periods 1997-2002 using all the available options of the model's convective parameterization scheme. The UBC model was first calibrated with observed data from 1995-2004 and the higher correlation of 0.9. RCM data achieved was used as an input to the hydrological model after bias correction from 2001-2010, 2041-2050, and 2071-2080 as, respectively,  base period, future one (F1), and future two (F2), under scenarios  RCP8.5 and RCP4.5.

Results and conclusion

The models results were compared with TRMM, station, CRU, and runoff data. The first results showed  the RCM performing very oddly over the Himalayan region; however,  after bias correction the results were  with close agreement with observed data for the spatio-temporal change of precipitation and temperature. Three climatic variables, that is, maximum temperature, minimum temperature, and precipitation show that there is climate change in the region. The results of the UBC model are quite satisfactory and showing a higher increasing trend during 2041-2050, while the increase trend in 2071-2080 is relatively low. The possible reason for this may be faster glacier melt and reduction in size of glaciers during the first half of the century. In last decades of the century, as the size of the glacier decreases, so it  contributes less to inflow.  


Shaukat Ali is a citizen of Pakistan and resident in China. He was funded by IIASA's National Member Organization of Pakistan and worked in the Water (WAT) Program during YSSP.

Please note these Proceedings have received limited or no review from supervisors and IIASA program directors, and the views and results expressed therein do not necessarily represent IIASA, its National Member Organizations, or other organizations supporting the work.

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Last edited: 19 August 2015


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