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Volume 22, issue 10 | Copyright

Special issue: The changing water cycle of the Indo-Gangetic Plain

Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 22, 5097-5110, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 04 Oct 2018

Research article | 04 Oct 2018

Precipitation pattern in the Western Himalayas revealed by four datasets

Hong Li1,2, Jan Erik Haugen3, and Chong-Yu Xu2 Hong Li et al.
  • 1Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, Oslo, Norway
  • 2University of Oslo, Norway
  • 3Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo, Norway

Abstract. Data scarcity is the biggest problem for scientific research related to hydrology and climate studies in the Great Himalayas region. High-quality precipitation data are difficult to obtain due to a sparse network, cold climate and high heterogeneity in topography. In this paper, we examine four datasets in northern India of the Western Himalayas: interpolated gridded data based on gauge observations (IMD, 1° × 1°, and APHRODITE, 0.25° × 0.25°), reanalysis data (ERA-Interim, 0.75° × 0.75°) and high-resolution simulation by a regional climate model (WRF, 0.15° × 0.15°). The four datasets show a similar spatial pattern and temporal variation during the period 1981–2007, though the absolute values vary significantly (497–819mmyear−1). The differences are particularly large in July and August at the windward slopes and high-elevation areas. Overall, the datasets show that the summer is getting wetter and the winter is getting drier, though most of the trends in monthly precipitation are not significant. Trend analysis of summer and winter precipitation at every grids confirms the changes. Wetter summers will result in more and bigger floods in the downstream areas. Warmer and drier winters will result in less glacier accumulation. All the datasets show consistency in the period 1981–2007 and can give a spatial overview of the precipitation in the region. Comparing with the Bhuntar gauge data, the WRF dataset gives the best estimates of extreme precipitation. To conclude, we recommend the APHRODITE dataset and the WRF dataset for hydrological studies for their improved spatial variation which match the scale of hydrological processes as well as accuracy in extreme precipitation for flood simulation.

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Precipitation is a key in the water system and glacier fate in the Great Himalayas region. We examine four datasets of available types in the Western Himalayas and they show very large differences. The differences depend much on the data source and are particularly large in monsoon seasons and high-elevation areas. All the datasets show a trend to wetter summer and drier winter and this trend reveals a tendency towards a high-flow seasonality and an unfavorable condition for glaciers.
Precipitation is a key in the water system and glacier fate in the Great Himalayas region. We...