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Water 2016, 8(1), 23; doi:10.3390/w8010023

Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Water Resources in the Kunhar River Basin, Pakistan

1
Institute of Geographic Science and Natural Resources Research/Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
2
Water Engineering and Management, Asian Institute of Technology, Pathumthani 12120, Thailand
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Yingkui Li and Michael A. Urban
Received: 19 October 2015 / Revised: 31 December 2015 / Accepted: 4 January 2016 / Published: 16 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Resource Variability and Climate Change)
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Abstract

Pakistan is one of the most highly water-stressed countries in the world and its water resources are greatly vulnerable to changing climatic conditions. The present study investigates the possible impacts of climate change on the water resources of the Kunhar River basin, Pakistan, under A2 and B2 scenarios of HadCM3, a global climate model. After successful development of the hydrological modeling system (HEC-HMS) for the basin, streamflow was simulated for three future periods (2011–2040, 2041–2070, and 2071–2099) and compared with the baseline period (1961–1990) to explore the changes in different flow indicators such as mean flow, low flow, median flow, high flow, flow duration curves, temporal shift in peaks, and temporal shifts in center-of-volume dates. From the results obtained, an overall increase in mean annual flow was projected in the basin under both A2 and B2 scenarios. However, while summer and autumn showed a noticeable increase in streamflow, spring and winter showed decreased streamflow. High and median flows were predicted to increase, but low flow was projected to decrease in the future under both scenarios. Flow duration curves showed that the probability of occurrence of flow is likely to be more in the future. It was also noted that peaks were predicted to shift from June to July in the future, and the center-of-volume date—the date at which half of the annual flow passes—will be delayed by about 9–17 days in the basin, under both A2 and B2 scenarios. On the whole, the Kunhar basin will face more floods and droughts in the future due to the projected increase in high flow and decrease in low flow and greater temporal and magnitudinal variations in peak flows. These results highlight how important it is to take cognizance of the impact of climate change on water resources in the basin and to formulate suitable policies for the proper utilization and management of these resources. View Full-Text
Keywords: Climate change; downscaling; temperature; precipitation; hydrologic modelling; water resources; Kunhar basin; Pakistan Climate change; downscaling; temperature; precipitation; hydrologic modelling; water resources; Kunhar basin; Pakistan
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Mahmood, R.; Jia, S.; Babel, M.S. Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Water Resources in the Kunhar River Basin, Pakistan. Water 2016, 8, 23.

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