Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 435–447 | Cite as

Development of a new downscaling method for hydrologic assessment of climate change impacts in data scarce regions and its application in the Western Ghats, India

  • Paul D. Wagner
  • Tim G. Reichenau
  • Shamita Kumar
  • Karl SchneiderEmail author
Original Article


Climate change affects local and regional water resources. Especially in regions with water scarcity, high climate sensitivity, and dynamic socioeconomic development, an adaptation of water management strategies is needed. Our study aims at (i) testing a new downscaling approach to utilize climate model results in a meso-scale hydrologic model and at (ii) analyzing the impact of climate change on the water balance components in the Mula and Mutha Rivers catchment upstream of the city of Pune, India. The new downscaling approach relies on the inherent consistency of both, the climate model and the measured data. It allows to derive a representation of a future climate scenario (2009–2099) by rearranging past measurements (1988–2008). We found a good agreement of the monthly statistics of the rearranged and the original measured data in the baseline period. However, the downscaling method is limited by the range of measured values provided in the baseline period, which results in an underestimation of temperatures in the last 20 years of the scenario period. The downscaled weather data for IPCC emission scenario A1B were used in a hydrologic impact assessment with SWAT. The scenario resulted in higher evapotranspiration, particularly in the first months of the dry season and in repeated low water storages in the reservoirs at the end of rainy season. Consequently, local and downstream water users as well as rain-fed agriculture and semi-natural vegetation in the Western Ghats increasingly suffer from water stress.


SWAT Climate change Downscaling Water resources Hydrologic modeling India 



We gratefully acknowledge support by a grant from the German National Academic Foundation. We would like to thank Bodo Ahrens and Shakeel Asharaf of the Institute for Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the Goethe-University Frankfurt for providing the regional climate model data. We are grateful to IMD Pune, Water Resources Department Nashik, Khadakwasla Irrigation Division Pune, Groundwater Department Pune, Department of Agriculture Pune, and NRSC Hyderabad for supplying environmental data, good cooperation and discussions. Moreover, we acknowledge supply of ASTER data by the USGS Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center. Special thanks go to Karen Schneider for proof reading the manuscript and to the students from the Institute of Environment Education and Research at Bharati Vidyapeeth University Pune for assistance with the field measurements. The authors thank the editor and the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul D. Wagner
    • 1
  • Tim G. Reichenau
    • 1
  • Shamita Kumar
    • 2
  • Karl Schneider
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Hydrogeography and Climatology Research Group, Institute of GeographyUniversity of CologneCologneGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Environment Education and ResearchBharati Vidyapeeth UniversityPuneIndia

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