Hydrologic impact of regional climate change for the snowfed and glacierfed river basins in the Republic of Tajikistan: hydrological response of flow to climate change



The warming of the Earth's atmosphere system is likely to change temperature and precipitation, which may affect the climate, hydrology and water resources at the river basins over the world. The importance of temperature change becomes even greater in snow or glacier dominated basins where it controls the snowmelt processes during the late-winter, spring and summer months. In this study hydrologic responses of streamflow in the Pyanj and Vaksh River basins to climate change are analysed with a watershed hydrology model, based on the downscaled atmospheric data as input, in order to assess the regional climate change impact for the snowfed and glacierfed river basins in the Republic of Tajikistan. As a result of this analysis, it was found that the annual mean river discharge is increasing in the future at snow and glacier dominated areas due to the air temperature increase and the consequent increase in snow/ice melt rates until about 2060. Then the annual mean flow discharge starts to decrease from about 2080 onward because the small glaciers start to disappear in the glacier areas. It was also found that there is a gradual change in the hydrologic flow regime throughout a year, with the high flows occuring earlier in the hydrologic year, due to the warmer climate in the future. Furthermore, significant increases in annual maximum daily flows, including the 100-year return period flows, at the Pyanj and Vaksh River basins toward the end of the 21st century can be inferred from flood frequency analysis results. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.