The potential impact of glacier recession on river discharge from the Hunza river basin was estimated as an indicator for downstream changes in the Indus river system. The J2000 model was used to analyze the water balance in the basin and simulate the contribution of snow and ice melt to total discharge at present and under three scenarios of glacier recession. Precipitation was corrected using virtual weather stations created at a higher elevation and a precipitation gradient. Snowmelt from the whole basin contributed, on average, 45% of the total river discharge during the modeling period and 47% of the ice melt from the glacier area. Total ice melt declined by 55%, 81%, and 96% under scenarios of glacier recession to 4000, 4500, and 5000 masl, respectively. The contribution of ice melt to river discharge decreased to 29%, 14%, and 4% under the three scenarios, while total discharge from the Hunza river decreased by 28%, 40%, and 46%. The results suggest that glacier recession in the Hunza river basin could have serious implications for downstream water availability. Understanding melt contribution in the basin based on ongoing and projected future climatic change can play a crucial role in future water resource management.
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