A conceptual precipitation–runoff model was applied in five glacierized catchments in Central Asia. The model, which was first developed and applied in the Alps, works on a daily time step and yields good results in the more continental climate of the Tien Shan mountains for present-day climate conditions. Runoff scenarios for different climates (doubling of CO2) and glacierization conditions predict an increased flood risk as a first stage and a more complex picture after a complete glacier loss: a higher discharge during spring due to an earlier and more intense snowmelt is followed by a water deficiency in hot and dry summer periods. This unfavourable seasonal redistribution of the water supply has dramatic consequences for the Central Asian lowlands, which depend to a high degree on the glacier melt water for irrigation and already nowadays suffer from water shortages.

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