Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 574–587 | Cite as

Implications of climate change on streamflow of a snow-fed river system of the Northwest Himalaya

  • Vaibhav SharmaEmail author
  • Varunendra Dutta Mishra
  • Pawan Kumar Joshi
Open Access


Air temperature and snow cover variability are sensitive indicators of climate change. This study was undertaken to forecast and quantify the potential streamflow response to climate change in the Jhelum River basin. The implications of air temperature trends (+0.11°C/decade) reported for the entire north-west Himalaya for past century and the regional warming (+0.7°C/decade) trends of three observatories analyzed between last two decades were used for future projection of snow cover depletion and stream flow. The streamflow was simulated and validated for the year 2007–2008 using snowmelt runoff model (SRM) based on in-situ temperature and precipitation with remotely sensed snow cover area. The simulation was repeated using higher values of temperature and modified snow cover depletion curves according to the assumed future climate. Early snow cover depletion was observed in the basin in response to warmer climate. The results show that with the increase in air temperature, streamflow pattern of Jhelum will be severely affected. Significant redistribution of streamflow was observed in both the scenarios. Higher discharge was observed during spring-summer months due to early snowmelt contribution with water deficit during monsoon months. Discharge increased by 5%–40% during the months of March to May in 2030 and 2050. The magnitude of impact of air temperature is higher in the scenario-2 based on regional warming. The inferences pertaining to change in future streamflow pattern can facilitate long term decisions and planning concerning hydro-power potential, water resource management and flood hazard mapping in the region.


Snowmelt Snow cover depletion curve (SCDC) Climate change Global warming Stream flow SRM Jhelum 


  1. Ageta Y (2001) Study project on the recent shrinkage of summer accumulation type glaciers in the Himalayas, 1997–1999. Bulletin of Glaciological Research 18: 45–49.Google Scholar
  2. Archer DR, Fowler HJ (2008) Using meteorological data to forecast seasonal runoff on the River Jhelum, Pakistan. Journal of Hydrology 361: 10–23. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2008.07.017CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arora M, Singh P, Goel NK, et al. (2008) Climate variability influences on hydrological responses of a large Himalayan basin. Water Resource Management 22: 1461–1475. DOI: 10.1007/s.11269-007-9237-1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beniston M (1997) Variation of snow depth and duration in the Swiss Alps over the last 50 years: Links to changes in largescale climatic forcings. Climatic Change 36: 281–300. DOI: 10.1023/A:1005310214361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beniston M (2003) Climatic change in mountainous regions: a review of possible impacts. Climate Change 59: 5–31. DOI: 10.1023/A:1024458411589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bhutiyani MR, Kale VS, Pawar NJ (2007) Long-term trends in maximum, minimum and mean annual air temperatures across the northwestern Himalaya during the 20th Century. Climatic Change 85: 159–177. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-006-9196-1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bhutiyani MR, Kale VS, Pawar NJ (2008) Changing streamflow patterns in the rivers of northwestern Himalaya: Implications of global warming in the 20th century. Current Science 95(5): 618–626.Google Scholar
  8. Bhutiyani MR, Kale VS, Pawar NJ (2009) Climate change and the precipitation variations in the north-western Himalaya: 1866–2006. International Journal of Climatology DOI: 10.1002/joc.1920.Google Scholar
  9. Borgaonkar HP, Pant GB, Kumar R (1996) Ring-width variations in Cedras deodara and its climatic response over the western Himalaya. International Journal of Climatology 16: 1409–1422. DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0088(199612)16:12〈1409::AID-JOC93〉3.0.CO;2-HCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Butt M, Bilal M (2011) Application of snowmelt runoff model for water resource management. Hydrological Processes 25(24): 3735–3747. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.8099.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cannone N, Diolaiuti G, Gugliemin M, et al. (2008) Accelerating climate change impacts on alpine glacier forefield ecosystems in the European alps. Ecological Application 18(3): 637–648. DOI: 10.1890/07-1188.1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Crowley TJ (2000) Causes of climate change over the past 1000 years. Science 289: 270–276. DOI: 0.1126/science.289.5477.270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Day CA (2009) Modelling impacts of climate change on snowmelt runoff generation and streamflow across western US mountain basins: a review of techniques and applications for water resources management. Progress in Physical Geography 33(5): 614–633. DOI: 10.1177/0309133309343131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. De US, Mukhopadhyay RK (1998) Severe heat wave over the Indian subcontinent in 1998, in perspective of global climate. Current Science 75(12): 1308–1311.Google Scholar
  15. Diaz HF, Bradley RS (1997) Temperature variations during the last century at high elevation sites. Climatic Change 36: 253–279. DOI: 10.1023/A:1005335731187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Diaz HF, Grosjean M, Graumlich L (2003) Climate variability and change in high elevation regions: past, present and future. Climatic Change 59: 1–4. DOI: 10.1023/A:1024416227887CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Easterling DR, Horton B, Jones PD, et al. (1997) Maximum and minimum temperature trends for the globe. Science 227: 364–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fallot JM, Barry RG, Hoogstrate D (1997) Variation of mean cold season temperature, precipitation and Snow depths during the last 100 years in the former depths during the last 100 years in the former Soviet Union (FSU). Hydrological Sciences 42: 301–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hall DK, Riggs GA, Salomonson VV, et al. (2002) MODIS snow cover products. Remote Sensing of Environment 83: 181–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hewitt K (2005) The Karakoram anomaly Glacier expansion and the ‘elevation effect,’ Karakoram Himalaya. Mountain Resource Development 25(4): 332–340. DOI: 10.1659/0276-4741(2005)025[0332:TKAGEA]2.0.CO;2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Huber UM, Bugmann HKM, Reasoner AM (2005) Global Change and Mountain Regions: An Overview of Current Knowledge. Advances in Global Change Research series 23: 650 ISBN 978-1-4020-3508-1.Google Scholar
  22. IPCC, Climate change (2001) The IPCC Third Assessment Report, Vols I (The scientific basis), II (Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability) and III (Mitigation), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  23. IPCC (2007) Climate Change 2007: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, Working Group II Contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - Fourth Assessment Report Summary for Policymakers.Google Scholar
  24. Jain SK, Goswami A, Saraf A (2009) Snowmelt runoff modeling in a Himalayan basin with the aid of satellite data. International Journal of Remote Sensing 31: 6603–6618. DOI: 10.1080/01431160903433893CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jain SK, Goswami A, Saraf A (2010) Assessment of Snowmelt Runoff Using Remote Sensing and Effect of Climate Change on Runoff. Water Resources Management 24: 1763–1777. DOI: 10.1007/s11269-009-9523-1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jones PD, Raper SCB, Bradley RS, et al. (1986) Northern hemispheric surface air variation: 1851–1984. Journal of Climate and Applied Meteorology 25: 161–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jones PD, Raper SCB, et al. (1986) Southern hemispheric surface air variation: 1851–1984. Journal of Climate and Applied Meteorology 25: 1213–1230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Karl TR, Knight RW, Plummer N (1995) Trends in high frequency climate variability in the twentieth century. Nature 377: 217–220. DOI: 10.1038/377217a0CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Knappenberger PC, Michaels PJ, Davis RE (2001) Nature of observed temperature changes across the United States during the 20th century. Climate Research 17: 45–53. DOI: 10.3354/cr017045CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Larson RP, Byrne JM, Johnson DL, et al. (2011) Modelling climate change impacts on spring runoff for the rocky mountains of Montana and Alberta I: Model development, calibration and historical analysis. Canadian Water Resource Journal 36(1): 17–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Li C, Tang M (1986) Changes of air temperature of Qinghai-Xizang plateau and its neighbourhood in the past 30 years. Plateau Meteorology 5: 322–341.Google Scholar
  32. Lin YP, Hong, NM, Wu PJ et al. (2007) Modeling and assessing landuse and hydrological processes to future land-use and climate change scenarios in watershed land-use planning. Environmental Geology 53: 623–634 DOI: 10.1007/s00254-007-0677-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Martinec J, Rango A, Roberts R (2008) Snowmelt Runoff Model (SRM) User’s Manual (version 1.11). Available online at: (accessed in November 2012)Google Scholar
  34. Meng L, Tao L, Li J, et al. (2008) A system for automatic processing of MODIS L1B data. 8th International Symposium on spatial accuracy assessment in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, June 2008, Shanghai, China. pp 335–343.Google Scholar
  35. Negi HS, Snehmani, Thakur NK (2008) Operational Snow Cover Monitoring in NW-Himalaya using Terra and Aqua MODIS Imageries. Proceedings International Workshop on Snow, Ice, Glacier and Avalanches, IITMumbai, India, 7–9 January 2008. pp 11–25.Google Scholar
  36. Nichol J, Hang LK, Sing WM (2006) Empirical correction of low sun angle images in steeply sloping terrain: a slope matching technique. International Journal of Remote Sensing 27(3–4): 629–635.DOI: 10.1080/02781070500293414CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mishra VD, Sharma JK, Singh KK, et al. (2009) Assessment of different topographic corrections on AWiFS satellite imagery of Himalaya terrain. Journal of Esrth System and Science 118(1) 11–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Oerlemans J (1994) Quantifying global warming from retreat of glaciers. Science 264: 243–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pant GB, Borgaonkar HP (1984) Climate of the hill regions of Uttar Pradesh. Himalayan Research and Development 3(1): 13–20.Google Scholar
  40. Pant GB, Borgaonkar HP, Kumar R (1999) Climate variability over the Western Himalaya since little ice age: dendroclimatic implications. In Proceedings of national snow science workshop “Technology in support of snow and avalanche research”, Manali (India), October 1999.Google Scholar
  41. Qiang F, Celeste MJ, Stephen GW, et al. (2004) Contribution of stratospheric cooling to satellite inferred tropospheric temperature trends. Nature 429: 55–57. DOI: 10.1038/nature02524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Riggs H, Hall DK (2002) Reduction of cloud obscuration in the MODIS snow data product. In Proceedings of 59th Eastern Snow conference, Stowe, Vermont USA, June 2002.Google Scholar
  43. Rebetez M (2004) Summer 2003 maximum and minimum daily temperature over a 3300 m altitudinal range in the Alps. Climate Research 27: 45–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schaer C, Vidale PL, Luthi D, et al. (2004) The role of increasing temperature variability in European summer heat waves. Nature 427: 332–336. DOI: 10.1038/nature02300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Seko K, Takahashi S (1991) Characteristics of winter precipitation and its effects on glaciers in Nepal Himalaya. Bulletin of Glacier Research 9: 9–16.Google Scholar
  46. Sharma SS, Ganju A (2000) Complexities of avalanche forecasting in western Himalaya - an overview. Cold Region Science and Technology 31: 95–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sharma V, Mishra VD, Joshi PK (2012) Snow cover variation and streamflow simulation in a snow-fed river basin of the Northwest Himalaya. Journal of Mountain Science 9: 853–868 DOI: 10.1007/s11629-012-2419-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Shekhar MS, Chand H, Kumar S, et al. (2010) Climate-change studies in the western Himalaya. Annals of Glaciology 51(54): 105–112. DOI: 10.3189/172756410791386508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Singh P, Bengtsson L, Berndtsson R (2003) Relating air temperatures to the depletion of snow covered area in a Himalayan Basin. Nordic Hydrology 34(4): 276–283. DOI: 10.2166/nh.2003.016Google Scholar
  50. Singh P, Bengtsson L (2004) Hydrological sensitivity of a large Himalayan basin to climate change. Hydrological Processes 18 2363–2385, DOI: 10.1002/hyp.1468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Thompson LG, Yao T, Mosley-Thompson E, et al. (2000) A high-resolution millennial record of the South Asian monsoon from Himalayan ice cores. Science 289: 1916–1919. DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5486.1916CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Villaba R, Lara A, Boninsegna JA, et al. (2003) Large scale temporal changes across the southern Andes: 20th century variations in the context of the past 400 years. Climatic Change 59: 177–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Vinnikov K, Graisman P. Ya, Lugina KM (1990) Empirical data on contemporary global climatic changes (Temperature and Precipitation). Journal of Climate 3: 662–677. DOI: 10.1175/1520-0442(1990)003〈0662:EDOCGC〉2.0.CO;2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Vuille M, Bradley RS, Werner M, et al. (2003) 20th Century climate change in the tropical Andes: observations and model results. Climatic Change 59: 75–99. DOI: 10.1007/978-94-015-1252-7_5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wang J, Li HY, Hao XH (2010) Reponses of snowmelt runoff to climatic change in an inland river basin, Northwestern China, over the past 50a. Hydrological Earth System and Sciences Discussions 7: 493–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wibig J, Glowicki B (2002) Trends in minimum and maximum temperature in Poland. Climate Research 20: 123–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Zhai P, Sun A, Ren F, et al. (1999) Changes in climate extreme in China. Climate Change 42: 203–218. DOI: 10.1007/978-94-015-9265-9_13CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vaibhav Sharma
    • 1
    Email author
  • Varunendra Dutta Mishra
    • 1
  • Pawan Kumar Joshi
    • 2
  1. 1.Snow and Avalanche Study EstablishmentChandigarhIndia
  2. 2.TERI University Institutional AreaDelhiIndia

Personalised recommendations