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Climate Change Impact Assessment on the Hydrological Regime of the Kaligandaki Basin, Nepal

  • Maharjan, S. B.
  • Shrestha, A. B.
  • Bajracharya, S. R.
  • Bajracharya, A. R.

The Hindu Kush-Himalayan region is an important global freshwater resource. The hydrological regime of the region is vulnerable to climatic variations, especially precipitation and temperature. In our study, we modelled the impact of climate change on the water balance and hydrological regime of the snow dominated Kaligandaki Basin. The Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) was used for a future projection of changes in the hydrological regimeof the Kaligandaki basin based on Representative Concentration Pathways Scenarios (RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5) of ensemble downscaled Coupled Model Intercomparison Project's (CMIP5) General Circulation Model (GCM) outputs. It is predicted to be a rise in the average annual temperature of over 4 °C, and an increase in the average annual precipitation of over 26% by the end of the 21st century under RCP 8.5 scenario. Modeling results show these will lead to significant changes in the basin's water balance and hydrological regime. In particular, a 50% increase in discharge is expected at the outlet of the basin. Snowmelt contribution will largely be affected by climate change, and it is projected to increase by 90% by 2090.Water availability in the basin is not likely to decrease during the 21st century. The study demonstrates that the importantwater balance components of snowmelt, evapotranspiration, and water yield at higher elevations in the upper and middle sub-basins of the Kaligandaki Basin will be most affected by the increasing temperatures and precipitation.

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