WaterRain-Him: Changes in Water Resources and Adaptation options in the Indian-Himalayan basins

In this project, we will evaluate the impacts of environmental change (i.e. climate, land use and population) on the water storage and fluxes in the Indian Himalayan-fed basins, and adaptation strategies to drive planning for proper and efficient water resources management for food security and poverty alleviation.

About the project

The Indian-Himalayan region (Fig. 1) already faces water stresses due to increase in population growth, urbanization, and increasing demands in the agriculture, industrial and hydropower sectors. In addition, climate change is already a reality in the region, whereas land use changes and water exploitation are present at unprecedented scale.

The sustainability of the Himalayan system is crucial for the socio-economic development of the country and the livelihood of some 600 million people.

The range has the third largest deposit of ice and snow in the world storing a significant volume of fresh water. This importance of mountain water resources tends to stretch beyond the local scale, as their runoff provides water supply for adjacent, often drier lowlands. Therefore securing sufficient supplies of freshwater in the Himalayan basins is of primary concern, and may be seriously hindered by the spatial and temporal variability of water demand and supply.

By quantifying the impacts of environmental change on water availability and by providing adaptation strategies to tackle these impacts, the project will promote sustainable development in the region. The project’s results will be useful in deciding water allocation and use, and in planning for proper and efficient water resources management for food security and poverty alleviation.

Regions WaterRain-Him
Figure 1. Regions of interest within WaterRain-Him.

Project aims

We focus on the following questions:

Hydrological process understanding and modelling (model inter-comparison)

  • How much is contribution from snow and glaciers to river discharge in the present and future climate?
  • What are the separate and combined effects of different drivers of change to water fluxes and extremes?

RCM bias correction (in high-altitude regions)

  • How should climate model outputs be bias corrected to be useful for hydrological modelling in the Himalayas, and how large are uncertainties of the projections?

Adaptation and end-user communication

  • What are the end-user needs in the region, how are future projections presented to end-users for maximum usefulness, and what are the suggested adaptation strategies?