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Atmosphere 2018, 9(5), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos9050162

Investigating Snow Cover and Hydrometeorological Trends in Contrasting Hydrological Regimes of the Upper Indus Basin

Institute of Geographical Information Systems, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad 44000, Pakistan
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Received: 7 March 2018 / Revised: 22 April 2018 / Accepted: 23 April 2018 / Published: 26 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Climatology and Meteorology)
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Abstract

The Upper Indus basin (UIB) is characterized by contrasting hydrometeorological behaviors; therefore, it has become pertinent to understand hydrometeorological trends at the sub-watershed level. Many studies have investigated the snow cover and hydrometeorological modeling at basin level but none have reported the spatial variability of trends and their magnitude at a sub-basin level. This study was conducted to analyze the trends in the contrasting hydrological regimes of the snow and glacier-fed river catchments of the Hunza and Astore sub-basins of the UIB. Mann-Kendall and Sen’s slope methods were used to study the main trends and their magnitude using MODIS snow cover information (2001–2015) and hydrometeorological data. The results showed that in the Hunza basin, the river discharge and temperature were significantly (p ≤ 0.05) decreased with a Sen’s slope value of −2.541 m3·s−1·year−1 and −0.034 °C·year−1, respectively, while precipitation data showed a non-significant (p ≥ 0.05) increasing trend with a Sen’s slope value of 0.023 mm·year−1. In the Astore basin, the river discharge and precipitation are increasing significantly (p ≤ 0.05) with a Sen’s slope value of 1.039 m3·s−1·year−1 and 0.192 mm·year−1, respectively. The snow cover analysis results suggest that the Western Himalayas (the Astore basin) had a stable trend with a Sen’s slope of 0.07% year−1 and the Central Karakoram region (the Hunza River basin) shows a slightly increasing trend with a Sen’s slope of 0.394% year−1. Based on the results of this study it can be concluded that since both sub-basins are influenced by different climatological systems (monsoon and westerly), the results of those studies that treat the Upper Indus basin as one unit in hydrometeorological modeling should be used with caution. Furthermore, it is suggested that similar studies at the sub-basin level of the UIB will help in a better understanding of the Karakoram anomaly. View Full-Text
Keywords: Upper Indus basin (UIB); Hunza River basins; Astore River basins; climate change; snow cover; spatial variability; Mann-Kendall trend analysis; Sen’s slope test Upper Indus basin (UIB); Hunza River basins; Astore River basins; climate change; snow cover; spatial variability; Mann-Kendall trend analysis; Sen’s slope test
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Atif, I.; Iqbal, J.; Mahboob, M.A. Investigating Snow Cover and Hydrometeorological Trends in Contrasting Hydrological Regimes of the Upper Indus Basin. Atmosphere 2018, 9, 162.

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