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Emptying water towers? Impacts of future climate and glacier change on river discharge in the northern Tien Shan, central Asia

Shahgedanova, Maria, Afzal, Muhammad, Hagg, Wilfried, Kapitsa, Vassiliy, Kasatkin, Nikolay, Mayr, Elizabeth, Rybak, Oleg, Saidaliyeva, Zarina, Severskiy, Igor, Usmanova, Zamira, Wade, Andrew, Yaitskaya, Natalia and Zhumabayev, Dauren 2020. Emptying water towers? Impacts of future climate and glacier change on river discharge in the northern Tien Shan, central Asia. Water 12 (3) , 627. 10.3390/w12030627

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Impacts of projected climate and glacier change on river discharge in five glacierized catchments in the northern Tien Shan, Kazakhstan are investigated using a conceptual hydrological model HBV-ETH. Regional climate model PRECIS driven by four different GCM-scenario combinations (HadGEM2.6, HadGEM8.5, A1B using HadCM3Q0 and ECHAM5) is used to develop climate projections. Future changes in glaciation are assessed using the Blatter–Pattyn type higher-order 3D coupled ice flow and mass balance model. All climate scenarios show statistically significant warming in the 21st Century. Neither projects statistically significant change in annual precipitation although HadGEM and HadCM3Q0-driven scenarios show 20–37% reduction in July–August precipitation in 2076–2095 in comparison with 1980–2005. Glaciers are projected to retreat rapidly until the 2050s and stabilize afterwards except under the HadGEM8.5 scenario where retreat continues. Glaciers are projected to lose 38–50% of their volume and 34–39% of their area. Total river discharge in July–August, is projected to decline in catchments with low (2–4%) glacierization by 20–37%. In catchments with high glacierization (16% and over), no significant changes in summer discharge are expected while spring discharge is projected to increase. In catchments with medium glacierization (10–12%), summer discharge is expected to decline under the less aggressive scenarios while flow is sustained under the most aggressive HadGEM8.5 scenario, which generates stronger melt.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: MDPI
ISSN: 2073-4441
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 March 2020
Date of Acceptance: 21 February 2020
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2020 01:37

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