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Journal Article

Attributing historical streamflow changes in the Jhelum River basin to climate change


Javed,  Mustafa
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Didovets,  Iulii
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Böhner,  Jürgen
External Organizations;

Hasson,  Shabeh ul
External Organizations;

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Javed, M., Didovets, I., Böhner, J., Hasson, S. u. (2023): Attributing historical streamflow changes in the Jhelum River basin to climate change. - Climatic Change, 176, 149.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_29342
Amid a heated debate on what are possible and what are plausible climate futures, ascertaining evident changes that are attributable to historical climate change can provide a clear understanding of how warmer climates will shape our future habitability. Hence, we detect changes in the streamflow simulated using three different datasets for the historical period (1901–2019) and analyze whether these changes can be attributed to observed climate change. For this, we first calibrate and validate the Soil and Water Integrated Model and then force it with factual (observed) and counterfactual (baseline) climates presented in the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project Phase 3a protocol. We assessed the differences in simulated streamflow driven by the factual and counterfactual climates by comparing their trend changes ascertained using the Modified Mann–Kendall test on monthly, seasonal, and annual timescales. In contrast to no trend for counterfactual climate, our results suggest that mean annual streamflow under factual climate features statistically significant decreasing trends, which are − 5.6, − 3.9, and − 1.9 m3s−1 for the 20CRv3-w5e5, 20CRv3, and GSWP3-w5e5 datasets, respectively. Such trends, which are more pronounced after the 1960s, for summer, and for high flows can be attributed to the weakening of the monsoonal precipitation regime in the factual climate. Further, discharge volumes in the recent factual climate dropped compared to the early twentieth-century climate, especially prominently during summer and mainly for high flows whereas earlier shifts found in the center of volume timings are due to early shifts in the nival regime. These findings clearly suggest a critical role of monsoonal precipitation in disrupting the hydrological regime of the Jhelum River basin in the future.