Trends of climate change in the upper Indus basin region, Pakistan: implications for cryosphere

  • Syeda Hafiza Benish Ali
  • Mustafa Nawaz Shafqat
  • Syed Ali Musstjab Akber Shah Eqani
  • Syed Tahir Abbas ShahEmail author


The Indus River, the lifeline of Pakistan’s economy and its tributaries, derives most of water flow from the upper Indus basin comprised of Karakorum, Himalaya, and Hindu Kush mountain ranges, thus making this area important in climate change studies. We analyzed the records of climatic variables including temperature, precipitation, and relative humidity (RH) from two weather stations (Gilgit and Skardu) of upper Indus basin region from 1953 to 2006. To observe the trends of climate change, the selected time was divided into two temporal half periods consisting of 27 years each (1953–1979 and 1980–2006). The overall mean temperature (OMT) was decreased by − 0.137 °C in Gilgit, while an increase of 0.63 °C was observed in Skardu during the later period compared to the previous one. The mean minimum temperature (MMT) was found to decrease while mean maximum temperature (MXT) showed non-significant changes during the summer at both locations. However, there was an evidence of spring and winter warming at both locations due to increase in the MXT. The precipitation data showed large interannual variation at both locations. Significant increases in the morning relative humidity (RH) were observed during summer and autumn months at Skardu and throughout the year at Gilgit, while the evening RH increased during the same seasons at both stations. Significant increase in MXT and OMT during spring and winter months at higher elevation (Skardu) may have serious implications for the deposition and melting of seasonal snowpack with impacts on local livelihoods and river flow.


Climate change Upper Indus basin Global warming River flow 



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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiosciencesCOMSATS University IslamabadIslamabadPakistan

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