Water Resources Management

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 999–1012 | Cite as

Assessment of Future Water Scarcity at Different Spatial and Temporal Scales of the Brahmaputra River Basin

  • Animesh K. GainEmail author
  • Yoshihide Wada


Climate change is one of the main driving forces that affect both the temporal and spatial variability of water availability. Besides climatic change, current demographic trends, economic development and related land use changes have direct impact on increasing demand for freshwater resources. Taken together, the net effect of these supply and demand changes has led to a growing water scarcity in major international river basins. The Brahmaputra River Basin is one of the most vulnerable areas in the world, as it is subject to combined effect of climate change and development pressures. A robust assessment of water scarcity considering both climatic and socio-economic changes is therefore vital for policy makers of the basin. In this study, we analyze future water scarcity of the Brahmaputra Basin in a geographically and temporally detailed manner, incorporating several novel approaches: (i) the application of consistent set of scenarios to estimate future water scarcity; (ii) estimation of water demand in terms of both water withdrawals and consumptive water use; (iii) comparison of water demand and availability on different temporal scales i.e., yearly, seasonal and monthly rather than only annual basis. (iv) assessment of groundwater recharge affected by climate change together with future demands for groundwater abstraction. Although the Brahmaputra Basin is one of the water abundant regions of the world, our analysis illustrates that during dry season water scarcity for the Basin will become more severe in the coming decades, which requires special attention to the decision makers of the authority.


Water scarcity Climate change Brahmaputra River Basin (BRB) Water demand Water supply 



The authors thank associate editor and anonymous reviewer for their constructive comments. Part of this research was conducted at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and at Utrecht University, whose financial support is gratefully acknowledged. The authors are grateful to Bangladesh Water Development Board for providing the discharge data.

Supplementary material

11269_2014_530_MOESM1_ESM.doc (356 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 356 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Science and Management of Climate ChangeCa’ Foscari University of VeniceVeniceItaly
  2. 2.Department of Physical Geography, Faculty of GeosciencesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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