Water Resources Management

, Volume 22, Issue 10, pp 1461–1475 | Cite as

Climate Variability Influences on Hydrological Responses of a Large Himalayan Basin

  • Manohar Arora
  • Pratap Singh
  • N. K. Goel
  • R. D. Singh


The hydrological cycle, a fundamental component of climate is likely to be altered in important ways due to climate change. In this study, the historical daily runoff has been simulated for the Chenab River basin up to Salal gauging site using a simple conceptual snowmelt model (SNOWMOD). The model has been used to study the impact of plausible hypothetical scenarios of temperature and rainfall on the melt characteristics and daily runoff of the Chenab River basin. The average value of increase in snowmelt runoff for T + 1°C, T + 2°C and T + 3°C scenarios are obtained to be 10, 28 and 43%, respectively. Whereas, the average value of increase in total streamflow runoff for T + 1°C, T + 2°C and T + 3°C are obtained to be 7, 19 and 28%, respectively. Changes in rainfall by −10 and + 10% vary the average annual snowmelt runoff over the T + 2°C scenario by −1% and + 1% only. The result shows that melt is much more sensitive to increase in temperature than to rainfall.


Climate change SNOWMOD Plausible hypothetical scenarios Melt characteristics Snowmelt runoff Streamflow 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arnell NW (1992) Factors controlling the effects of climate change on river flow regimes in a humid temperate environment. J Hydrol 132:321–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arnell NW, Liu C, Compagnucci R, da Cunha L, Hanaki K, Howe C, Mailu G, Shiklomanov I, Stakhiv E (2001) Hydrology and water resources. In: McCarthy JJ, Canziani O, Leary NA, Dokken DJ, White KS (eds) Chapter 4 in climate change 2001: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 193–233Google Scholar
  3. Baron JS, Hartman DM, Band LE, Lammers RB (2000) Sensitivity of a high-elevation Rocky mountain watershed to altered climate and CO2. Water Resour Res 36:89–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carter TR, Parry ML, Harasawa H, Nishioka S (1994) IPCC technical guidelines for assessing climate change impacts and adaptations, IPCC special report to working group II of IPCC, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Cayan DR, Riddle LG, Aguado E (1993) The influence of temperature and precipitation on seasonal streamflow in California. Water Resour Res 29:1127–1140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chiew FHS, Whetton PH, McMahon TA, Pittock AB (1995) Simulation of the impacts of climate change on runoff and soil moisture in Australian catchments. J Hydrol 167:121–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dyurgerov M (2003) Mountain and subpolar glaciers show an increase in sensitivity to climate warming and intensification of the water cycle. J Hydrol 282:164–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fontaine TA, Klassen JF, Cruickshank TS (2001) Hydrological response to climate change in the black hills of South Dakota, USA. Hydrol Sci J 46(1):27–40Google Scholar
  9. Gleick PH (1986) Methods for evaluating regional hydrologic impacts of global climate change. J Hydrol 88:97–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gleick PH (1987) Regional hydrologic consequences of increases in atmospheric CO2 and other trace gases. Clim Change 10:137–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Jansson P, Hock R, Schneider T (2003) The concept of glacier storage – a review. J Hydrol 282:116–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Lal M (2001) Climatic change – implications for India’s water resources. J Indian Water Res Soc 21(3):101–119Google Scholar
  13. Lettenmaier DP, Gan TY (1990) Hydrological sensitivities of the Sacramento San Joaquin river basin, California to global warming. Water Resour Res 26:69–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Loaiciga HA, Valdes JB, Vogel R, Garvey J, Schwarz H (1996) Global warming and hydrologic cycle. J Hydrol 174:83–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Manabe S, Milly PCD, Wetherald R (2004) Simulated long-term changes in river discharge and soil moisture due to global warming. Hydrol Sci J 49(4):625–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. McCabe GJ, Ayers MA (1989) Hydrologic effects of climate change in the Delaware river basin. Water Resour Bull 25(6):1231–1241Google Scholar
  17. Mehrotra R (1999) Sensitivity of runoff, soil moisture and reservoir design to climate change in central Indian river basins. Clim Change 42(4):725–757CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mirza MQ (1997) The runoff sensitivity of the Ganges river basin to climate change and its implications. J Environ Hydrol 5:1–13Google Scholar
  19. Nemec J, Schaake J (1982) Sensitivity of water resources system to climate variation. Hydrol Sci J 27:327–343Google Scholar
  20. Ng HYF, Marsalek J (1992) Sensitivity of streamflow simulation to changes in climatic inputs. Nordic Hydrol 23:257–272Google Scholar
  21. Panagoulia D (1991) Hydrological response of a medium-sized mountainous catchment to climate changes. Hydrol Sci J 36(6):525–547Google Scholar
  22. Schaake JC, Liu C (1989) Development and applications of simple water balance models to understand the relationship between climate and water resources. New Directions for Surface Water Modelling (Proceedings of the Baltimore Symposium, May 1989) IAHS Publ. No. 181, 343–352Google Scholar
  23. Schulze RE (1997) Impacts of global climate change in a hydrologically vulnerable region: challenges to South African hydrologists. Prog Phys Geogr 21:113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Singh P (1991) A temperature lapse rate study in western Himalayas. Hydrol J (Indian Association of Hydrologists) 14(3):156–163Google Scholar
  25. Singh P, Bengtsson L (2004) Hydrological sensitivity of a large Himalayan basin to climate change. Hydrol Process 18(13):2363–2385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Singh P, Bengtsson L (2005) Impact of warmer climate on melt and evaporation for the rainfed, snowfed and glacierfed basins in the Himalayan region. J Hydrol 300:140–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Singh P, Jain SK (2003) Modelling of streamflow and its components for a large Himalayan basin with predominant snowmelt yield. Hydrol Sci J 48(2):257–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Singh P, Kumar N (1997) Impact of climate change on the hydrological response of a snow and glacier melt runoff dominated Himalayan River. J Hydrol 193:316–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Singh P, Bengtsson L, Berndtsson R (2003) Relating air temperature to the depletion of snow covered area in a Himalayan basin. Nordic Hydrol 34(4):267–280Google Scholar
  30. Vehvilainen B, Lohvansuu J (1991) The effects of climate change on discharges and snow cover in Finland. Hydrol Sci J 36:109–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wigley TWL, Jones PD, Briffa KR, Smith G (1990) Obtaining sub-grid scale information from coarse resolution general circulation model output. J Geophys Res 95:1943–1953CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Xu CY (1999) Climate change and hydrologic models: a review of existing gaps and recent research developments. Water Resour Manag 13:369–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Xu CY (1999a) From GCMs to river flow: a review of downscaling methods and hydrologic modeling approaches. Prog Phys Geogr 23(2):229–249Google Scholar
  34. Xu CY (2000) Modelling the effects of climate change on water resources in Central Sweden. Water Resour Manag 14:177–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manohar Arora
    • 1
  • Pratap Singh
    • 1
  • N. K. Goel
    • 2
  • R. D. Singh
    • 1
  1. 1.National Institute of HydrologyRoorkeeIndia
  2. 2.Indian Institute of TechnologyRoorkeeIndia

Personalised recommendations