Climate change will increase flow in Asia’s big rivers

Sci Dev Net
22 June 2014

Climate change will cause water levels in Asia’s five major river systems, that are fed by Himalayan glaciers, to increase at least until 2050, a new study predicts.

Led by Arthur Lutz, post-doctoral researcher at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, the study predicts an increase in water availability for the upstream basins of the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Salween and Mekong river systems at least until 2050.

“For the upper Indus the increase is mainly caused by accelerated glacier melt, while for other basins the major cause is increasing precipitation,” says Lutz, who is also a researcher with FutureWater, a research organisation in the Netherlands.

The study published this month (1 June) in Nature Climate Change uses the latest climate models and these project a stronger increase in precipitation.

According to the findings, the amount of glacial meltwater contributing to the total flow in all basins does not change much at least until 2050 because the decrease in glacier area is compensated by an increase in melt rate.

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