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The sustainability of water resources in High Mountain Asia in the context of recent and future glacier change

By
Ann V. Rowan
Ann V. Rowan
Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Winter Street, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
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Duncan J. Quincey
Duncan J. Quincey
School of Geography, University of Leeds, Garstang North, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
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Morgan J. Gibson
Morgan J. Gibson
Centre for Glaciology, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Llandinam Building, Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth SY23 3DB, UK
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Neil F. Glasser
Neil F. Glasser
Centre for Glaciology, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Llandinam Building, Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth SY23 3DB, UK
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Matthew J. Westoby
Matthew J. Westoby
School of Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University, Ellison Place, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK
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Tristram D. L. Irvine-Fynn
Tristram D. L. Irvine-Fynn
Centre for Glaciology, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Llandinam Building, Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth SY23 3DB, UK
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Phillip R. Porter
Phillip R. Porter
Division of Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL10 9AB, UK
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Michael J. Hambrey
Michael J. Hambrey
Centre for Glaciology, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Llandinam Building, Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth SY23 3DB, UK
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Published:
January 01, 2018

Abstract

High Mountain Asia contains the largest volume of glacier ice outside the polar regions, and contain the headwaters of some of the largest rivers in central Asia. These glaciers are losing mass at a mean rate of between –0.18 and –0.5 m water equivalent per year. While glaciers in the Himalaya are generally shrinking, those in the Karakoram have experienced a slight mass gain. Both changes have occurred in response to rising air temperatures due to Northern Hemisphere climate change. In the westerly influenced Indus catchment, glacier meltwater makes up a large proportion of the hydrological budget, and loss of glacier mass will ultimately lead to a decrease in water supplies. In the monsoon-influenced Ganges and Brahmaputra catchments, the contribution of glacial meltwater is relatively small compared to the Indus, and the decrease in annual water supplies will be less dramatic. Therefore, enhanced glacier melt will increase river flows until the middle of the twenty-first century, but in the longer term, into the latter part of this century, river flows will decline as glaciers shrink. Declining meltwater supplies may be compensated by increases in precipitation, but this could exacerbate the risk of flooding.

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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

The Himalayan Cryosphere: Past and Present

N.C. Pant
N.C. Pant
University of Delhi, India
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R. Ravindra
R. Ravindra
National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, India
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D. Srivastava
D. Srivastava
Geological Survey of India, India
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L.G. Thompson
L.G. Thompson
The Ohio State University, USA
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The Geological Society of London
Volume
462
ISBN electronic:
9781786203434
Publication date:
January 01, 2018

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