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The days of plenty might soon be over in glacierized Central Asian catchments

  • Sorg, Annina Institute for Environmental Sciences (ISE), University of Geneva, Switzerland - dendrolab.ch, Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Berne, Switzerland
  • Huss, Matthias Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Rohrer, Mario Meteodat GmbH, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Stoffel, Markus Institute for Environmental Sciences (ISE), University of Geneva, Switzerland - dendrolab.ch, Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Berne, Switzerland
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    01.10.2014
Published in:
  • Environmental Research Letters. - 2014, vol. 9, no. 10, p. 104018
English Despite the fact that the fast-growing population of Central Asia strongly depends on glacial melt water for fresh water supply, irrigation and hydropower production, the impact of glacier shrinkage on water availability remains poorly understood. With an annual area loss of 0.36 to 0.76%, glaciers are retreating particularly fast in the northern Tien Shan, thus causing concern about future water security in the densely populated regions of Bishkek and Almaty. Here, we use exceptionally long in-situ data series to run and calibrate a distributed glacio-hydrological model, which we then force with downscaled data from phase five of the Climate Model Intercomparison Project CMIP5. We observe that even in the most glacier-friendly scenario, glaciers will lose up to two thirds (−60%) of their 1955 extent by the end of the 21st century. The range of climate scenarios translates into different changes in overall water availability, from peak water being reached in the 2020s over a gradual decrease to status quo until the end of the 21st century. The days of plenty, however, will not last much longer, as summer runoff is projected to decrease, independent of scenario uncertainty. These results highlight the need for immediate planning of mitigation measures in the agricultural and energy sectors to assure long-term water security in the densely populated forelands of the Tien Shan.
Faculty
Faculté des sciences et de médecine
Department
Département de Géosciences
Language
  • English
Classification
Hydrology
License
License undefined
Identifiers
Persistent URL
https://folia.unifr.ch/unifr/documents/304171
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