Advertisement

Climate Change and Hydrological Perspective of Bhutan

  • Chandan MahantaEmail author
  • Anirudha Mahagaonkar
  • Runti Choudhury
Chapter
Part of the Springer Hydrogeology book series (SPRINGERHYDRO)

Abstract

Climate change recognized as a reality has cast a formidable challenge to the human race in terms of coping with its commonly understood as well as uncertain impacts. Several studies around the globe have shown that climatic change is likely to impact significantly all major aspects of the environment and consequently human life. Bhutan, located in the rugged Eastern Himalayan Terrain, one of the most environmentally pristine regions, has been identified as exceptionally vulnerable to climate change-induced changes. Among the biggest impacts of these changes would be to the hydrological system of Bhutan, which remains the capital resource of the country. The three major drivers of Bhutan’s economy, viz. agriculture, hydropower, and tourism, directly or indirectly rely on this capital resource for its sustenance. Hence, it remains important for Bhutan and countries alike, to safeguard and protect their hydrological resources. Bhutan’s water resources that are being discussed in this paper are at serious threat due to projected climate change impacts. The region deserves urgent and an extensive study to understand the nature and magnitude of the impacts. Recognizing the imminent impacts, mitigation, and adaptation too has to go hand in hand. However, inadequate and partially accessible sensitive data has created a great setback for sound research. In this paper, an assessment of the impact of climate change on the different sectors in Bhutan has been made based on published literature, along with exploring possible ways of overcoming the hurdles in the way of finding potential mitigation and adaptation strategies that are realistic, affordable, and practicable for a region that can do even more in environmental governance with improved institutional mechanism.

Keywords

Bhutan Climate change Hydrological future Transboundary cooperation 

References

  1. ADB (2016) https://www.adb.org/countries/bhutan/main. Accessed 6 April 2017
  2. Ageta Y, Iwata S (1999) Report of Japan-Bhutan joint research 1998 on the assessment of glacier lake outburst flood (GLOF) in Bhutan. Nagoya University, IHASGoogle Scholar
  3. Ageta Y, Iwata S, Yabuki H, Naito N, Sakai A, Narama CHIYUKI, Karma T (2000) Expansion of glacier lakes in recent decades in the Bhutan Himalayas. IAHS Publication, pp 165–176Google Scholar
  4. Asahi K (1999) Data on inventoried glaciers and its distribution in eastern part of Nepal Himalaya. Data report 2 (1994–1998), Cryosphere Research in the Himalaya (CREH)Google Scholar
  5. Asian Development Bank (ADB) (2004) Key indicators, of developing Asian and Pacific countries. ADB, ManilaGoogle Scholar
  6. Bajracharya S, Shrestha B (2011) The status of glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region. International Centre for Mountain Development, KathmanduGoogle Scholar
  7. Bajracharya SR, Mool PK, Shrestha BR (2007) Impact of climate change on Himalayan glaciers and glacial lakes: case studies on GLOF and associated hazards in Nepal and Bhutan. International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, KathmanduGoogle Scholar
  8. Bajracharya SR, Maharjan SB, Shrestha F (2014) The status and decadal change of glaciers in Bhutan from the 1980s to 2010 based on satellite data. Ann Glaciol 55(66):159–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bear J, Cheng AHD, Sorek S, Ouazar D, Herrera I (eds) (1999) Seawater intrusion in coastal aquifers: concepts, methods and practices, vol 14. Springer Science & Business MediaGoogle Scholar
  10. Berkoff J (2003) Hydropower in Bhutan and Nepal: why the difference? World Econ 4(3):121–142Google Scholar
  11. Bisht M (2012) Bhutan-India power cooperation: benefits beyond bilateralism. Strateg Anal 36(5):787–803CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Biswas AK (2011) Cooperation or conflict in transboundary water management: case study of South Asia. Hydrol Sci J 56(4):662–670CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bolch T, Kulkarni A, Kääb A, Huggel C, Paul F, Cogley JG, Frey H, Kargel JS, Fujita K, Scheel M, Bajracharya S (2012) The state and fate of Himalayan glaciers. Science 336(6079):310–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Census (2011) http://censusindia.gov.in/. Accessed 6 April 2017
  15. Chhopel GK (2014) Sustainability of Bhutan’s hydropower. Hydro Nepal J Water Energy Environ 14:73–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chhopel GK, Dulal IR, Chhophel K, Wangchuk C, Rinzin U, Dupchu K, Kunzang TRK, Tshethar K, Dorji U, Wangchuk T, Lhamo T (2011) Securing the natural freshwater systems of the Bhutan Himalayas: climate change and adaptation measures on water resources in Bhutan. A climate summit for a living HimalayaGoogle Scholar
  17. Christensen JH et al (2007) Regional climate projections, in climate change 2007: the Physical Science Bases. In: Solomon S et al (eds) Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U. K, pp. 847–940Google Scholar
  18. Dhakal DNS, Jenkins GP (2013) Risk sharing in hydropower development: case study of the Chukha Hydel Project in Bhutan. Water Policy 15(S1):109–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dhiman SC, Jain SK (2010) An overview of Transboundary aquifers of the Indian Sub-continent. Editorial Board 25(1&2):1Google Scholar
  20. Döll P (2009) Vulnerability to the impact of climate change on renewable groundwater resources: a global-scale assessment. Environ Res Lett 4(3):035006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Dyurgerov MB, Meier MF (2005) Glaciers and the changing Earth system: a 2004 snapshot, vol 58. Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  22. FAO (2012) The state of food and agriculture. http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/i3028e/i3028e.pdf. ISBN 978-92-5-107317-9
  23. Frame B (2005) Bhutan: a review of its approach to sustainable development. Dev Pract 15(2):216–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fujita K (2008) Effect of precipitation seasonality on climatic sensitivity of glacier mass balance. Earth Planet Sci Lett 276(1):14–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Green TR, Taniguchi M, Kooi H, Gurdak JJ, Allen DM, Hiscock KM, Treidel H, Aureli A (2011) Beneath the surface of global change: impacts of climate change on groundwater. J Hydrol 405(3):532–560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gross National Happiness Commission (2013) Eleventh Five Year plan documentGoogle Scholar
  27. Gurdak JJ, Roe CD (2010) Review: recharge rates and chemistry beneath playas of the High plains aquifer, USA. Hydrogeol J 18(8):1747–1772CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Herrera-Pantoja M, Hiscock KM (2008) The effects of climate change on potential groundwater recharge in Great Britain. Hydrol Process 22(1):73–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hoy A, Katel O, Thapa P, Dendup N, Matschullat J (2016) Climatic changes and their impact on socio-economic sectors in the Bhutan Himalayas: an implementation strategy. Reg Environ Change 16(5):1401–1415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Immerzeel WW, Van Beek LP, Bierkens MF (2010) Climate change will affect the Asian water towers. Science 328(5984):1382–1385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. IPCC (1996) Climate change 1995 impacts, adaptation and mitigation of climate change: scientific and technical analyses. Contribution of working group II to the second assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate changeGoogle Scholar
  32. IPCC (2001) IPCC Third assessment report—climate change 2001. Working Group II: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Summary for policy makers. Geneva, WMO and UNEPGoogle Scholar
  33. Jyrkama MI, Sykes JF (2007) The impact of climate change on spatially varying groundwater recharge in the grand river watershed (Ontario). J Hydrol 338(3–4):237–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Karma, Ageta Y, Naito N, Iwata S, Yabuki H (2003) Glacier distribution in the Himalayas and glacier shrinkage from 1963 to 1993 in the Bhutan Himalayas. Bull Glaciol Res 20:29–40Google Scholar
  35. Katel ON, Schmidt-Vogt D, Dendup N (2015) Transboundary water resources management in the context of global environmental change: the case of Bhutan Himalaya. In: Managing water resources under climate uncertainty. Springer International Publishing, pp 269–290Google Scholar
  36. Komori J (2008) Recent expansions of glacial lakes in the Bhutan Himalayas. Quat Int 184(1):177–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kuhn M (1993) Possible future contribution to sea level change from small glaciers. In: Warrick RA et al (eds) Climate and sea level change: observations, projections and implications. Cambridge University press, Cambridge, UK, pp 134–143Google Scholar
  38. Kusters K, Wangdi N (2013) The costs of adaptation: changes in water availability and farmers’ responses in Punakha district, Bhutan. Int J Glob Warming 5(4):387–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lal M (2002) Possible impacts of global climate change on water availability in India. Report to global environment and energy in the 21st centuryGoogle Scholar
  40. Ministry of Planning (1996) Eighth Five-Year Plan (1997–2002) vol 1, Main plan document. Royal Government of Bhutan, ThimphuGoogle Scholar
  41. Mool PK, Wangda D, Bajracharya SR, Kunzang KARMA, Gurung DR, Joshi SP (2001) Inventory of glaciers, glacial lakes and glacial lake outburst floods. Monitoring and early warning systems in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region: Bhutan. In: Inventory of glaciers, glacial lakes and glacial lake outburst floods. Monitoring and early warning systems in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region, BhutanGoogle Scholar
  42. Mukherjee A (2018) Groundwater of South Asia. Springer, Singapore. ISBN 978–981-10-3888-4Google Scholar
  43. Mukherjee A, Saha D, Harvey CF, Taylor G, Ahmed KM, Bhanjaa SN (2015) Groundwater systems of the Indian Sub-Continent. J Hydrol Reg Stud 4(2015):1–14Google Scholar
  44. Naito N, Suzuki R, Komori J, Matsuda Y, Yamaguchi S, Sawagaki T, Tshering P, Ghalley KS (2012) Recent glacier shrinkages in the Lunana region, Bhutan Himalayas. Glob Environ Res 16(1):13–22Google Scholar
  45. National Statistics Bureau (2014) Statistical yearbook of Bhutan 2014. National Statistics Bureau, Royal government of Bhutan, Thimphu, BhutanGoogle Scholar
  46. National Statistics Bureau (2015) Statistical Yearbook of Bhutan 2015. National Statistics Bureau, Royal government of Bhutan, Thimphu, BhutanGoogle Scholar
  47. Nelson GC, Rosegrant MW, Koo J, Robertson R, Sulser T, Zhu T, Magalhaes M (2009) Climate change: impact on agriculture and costs of adaptation, vol 21. International Food Policy Research InstitutionGoogle Scholar
  48. NSSC P (2011) Bhutan land cover assessment 2010—technical report. National Soil and Services Centre and Policy and Planning Division. Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan, ThimphuGoogle Scholar
  49. Oerlemans J (1994) Quantifying global warming from the retreat of glaciers. In: Science-AAAS-weekly paper edition-including Guide to scientific information, 26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Reynolds JM, Taylor PJ (2004) Reviewed Work(s): inventory of glaciers, glacial lakes and glacial lake outburst floods, monitoring and early warning systems in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya Region: Nepal by Mool PK, Bajracharya SR, Joshi SP; Inventory of Glaciers, Glacial Lakes and Glacial Lake Outburst Floods, Monitoring and Early Warning Systems in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya Region: Bhutan by Mool PK, Wangda D, Bajracharya SR, Kunzang K, Gurung DR, Joshi SP. Mount Res Dev 24(3):272–274Google Scholar
  51. Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB) (1974) National Forest Policy. Department of Forestry, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Forests, Thimphu, BhutanGoogle Scholar
  52. Rupper S, Schaefer JM, Burgener LK, Koenig LS, Tsering K, Cook ER (2012) Sensitivity and response of Bhutanese glaciers to atmospheric warming. Geophys Res Lett 39(19)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sharma E, Chettri N, Tse-Ring K, Shrestha AB, Jing F, Mool P, Eriksson M (2009) Climate change impacts and vulnerability in the Eastern HimalayasGoogle Scholar
  54. Sukhija BS, Reddy DV, Nagabhushanam P (1998) Isotopic fingerprints of paleoclimates during the last 30,000 years in deep confined groundwaters of Southern India. Quat Res 50(3):252–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Van Dijck SJE, Laouina A, Carvalho AV, Loos S, Schipper AM, Van der Kwast H, Nafaa R, Antari M, Rocha A, Borrego C, Ritsema CJ (2006) Desertification in northern Morocco due to effects of climate change on groundwater recharge. In: Kepner WG, Rubio JL, Mouat DA, Pedrazzini F (eds) Desertification in the Mediterranean region: a security issue. Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp 549–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Vinke K, Martin MA, Adams S, Baarsch F, Bondeau A, Coumou D, Donner RV, Menon A, Perrette M, Rehfeld K, Robinson A, Rocha M, Schaeffer M, Schwan S, Serdeczny O, Svirejeva-Hopk A (2015) Climatic risks and impacts in South Asia: extremes of water scarcity and excess. Reg Environ Change.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-015-0924-9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. World Bank (2017) Link http://data.worldbank.org/country/bhutan. Data last accessed on 6 April 2017
  58. WWF Bhutan, NEC Bhutan (2016) Bhutan—Water risk scenarios and opportunities for resilient developmentGoogle Scholar
  59. Zektser IS, Loaiciga HA (1993) Groundwater fluxes in the global hydrologic cycle: past, present and future. J Hydrol 144(1–4):405–427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zhang Y, Su F, Hao Z, Xu C, Yu Z, Wang L, Tong K (2015) Impact of projected climate change on the hydrology in the headwaters of the Yellow River basin. Hydrol Process 29(20):4379–4397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zurick D (2006) Gross national happiness and environmental status in Bhutan. Geog Rev 657–681CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chandan Mahanta
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anirudha Mahagaonkar
    • 1
  • Runti Choudhury
    • 1
  1. 1.Indian Institute of Technology GuwahatiGuwahatiIndia

Personalised recommendations