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Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 1411-1435, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-22-1411-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
27 Feb 2018
Land-use change may exacerbate climate change impacts on water resources in the Ganges basin
Gina Tsarouchi1,2,3 and Wouter Buytaert1,2 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London, London, UK
2Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London, London, UK
3HR Wallingford, Howbery Park, Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 8BA, UK
Abstract. Quantifying how land-use change and climate change affect water resources is a challenge in hydrological science. This work aims to quantify how future projections of land-use and climate change might affect the hydrological response of the Upper Ganges river basin in northern India, which experiences monsoon flooding almost every year. Three different sets of modelling experiments were run using the Joint UK Land Environment Simulator (JULES) land surface model (LSM) and covering the period 2000–2035: in the first set, only climate change is taken into account, and JULES was driven by the CMIP5 (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5) outputs of 21 models, under two representative concentration pathways (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5), whilst land use was held fixed at the year 2010. In the second set, only land-use change is taken into account, and JULES was driven by a time series of 15 future land-use pathways, based on Landsat satellite imagery and the Markov chain simulation, whilst the meteorological boundary conditions were held fixed at years 2000–2005. In the third set, both climate change and land-use change were taken into consideration, as the CMIP5 model outputs were used in conjunction with the 15 future land-use pathways to force JULES. Variations in hydrological variables (stream flow, evapotranspiration and soil moisture) are calculated during the simulation period.

Significant changes in the near-future (years 2030–2035) hydrologic fluxes arise under future land-cover and climate change scenarios pointing towards a severe increase in high extremes of flow: the multi-model mean of the 95th percentile of streamflow (Q5) is projected to increase by 63 % under the combined land-use and climate change high emissions scenario (RCP8.5). The changes in all examined hydrological components are greater in the combined land-use and climate change experiment. Results are further presented in a water resources context, aiming to address potential implications of climate change and land-use change from a water demand perspective. We conclude that future water demands in the Upper Ganges region for winter months may not be met.


Citation: Tsarouchi, G. and Buytaert, W.: Land-use change may exacerbate climate change impacts on water resources in the Ganges basin, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 1411-1435, https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-22-1411-2018, 2018.
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Short summary
This work quantifies how future land-use and climate change may affect the hydrology of the Upper Ganges basin. Three sets of modelling experiments are run for the period 2000–2035, considering (1) only climate change, (2) only land-use change and (3) both climate and land-use change. Results point towards a severe increase in high flows. The changes are greater in the combined land-use and climate change experiment. We also show that future winter water demands in the region may not be met.
This work quantifies how future land-use and climate change may affect the hydrology of the...
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