Assessing the Climate Change Impact on Snow-Glacier Melting Dominated Basins in the Greater Himalaya Region Using a Distributed Glacio-Hydrologic Model

Monday, 15 December 2014
Sungwook Wi, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, United States, Yi-Chen E Yang, UMASS-Civil & Environ Engrg, Amherst, MA, United States and Abedalrazq Khalil, World Bank, Washington, DC, United States
Glacier and snow melting is main source of water supply making a large contribution to streamflow of major river basins in the Greater Himalaya region including the Syr Darya, the Amu Darya, the Indus, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra basins. Due to the critical role of glacier and snow melting as water supply for both food production and hydropower generation in the region (especially during the low flow season), it is important to evaluate the vulnerability of snow and glacier melting streamflow to different climate conditions. In this study, a distributed glacio-hydrologic model with high resolution climate input is developed and calibrated that explicitly simulates all major hydrological processes and the glacier and snow dynamics for area further discretized by elevation bands. The distributed modeling structure and the glacier and snow modules provide a better understanding about how temperature and precipitation alterations are likely to affect current glacier ice reserves. Climate stress test is used to explore changes in the total streamflow change, snow/glacier melting contribution and glacier accumulation and ablation under a variety of different temperature and precipitation conditions. The latest future climate projections provided from the World Climate Research Programme's Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) is used to inform the possibility of different climate conditions.