The Himalayan Climate and Water Atlas: Impact of Climate Change on Water Resources in Five of Asia’s Major River Basins


The first atlas of its kind, this new publication offers a comprehensive, regional understanding of the changing climate and its impact on water resources in five of the major river basins in the region: the Indus, Brahmaputra, Ganges, Salween and Mekong.

Click on the image to open an interactive version
Click on the image above to open an interactive version 

The atlas shows clearly that the regions climate, which has been changing rapidly, will continue to do so in the future, with severe consequences for populations locally and downstream. Some of the main points in the atlas include:

  • Temperatures across the mountainous Hindu Kush Himalayan region will increase by about 12°C (in some places by up to 45°C) by 2050.
  • Precipitation will change with the monsoon expected to become longer and more erratic.
  • Extreme rainfall events are becoming less frequent, but more violent and are likely to increase in intensity.
  • Glaciers will continue to suffer substantial ice loss, with the main loss in the Indus basin.
  • Communities living immediately downstream from glaciers are most vulnerable to glacial changes.
  • Despite overall greater river flow projected, higher variability in river flows and more water in pre-monsoon months are expected, which will lead to a higher incidence of unexpected floods and droughts, greatly impacting the livelihood security and agriculture of river-dependent people;
  • Changes in temperature and precipitation will have serious and far-reaching consequences for climate-dependent sectors, such as agriculture, water resources and health. 

The atlas includes recommendations to encourage policy makers to develop flexible and cooperative strategies between countries in order to deal with increased variability and to meet the challenges posed by either too much or too little water.

The findings are drawn from several years of research under the Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme (HICAP), with external reviews from international experts.

The project is funded by the governments of Norway and Sweden.