Abstract

This study investigates changes in the hydrologic regime of the Chitral River, Hindukush–Karakoram–Himalayan region, Pakistan. Different statistically based methods were used to assess climate change-induced hydrologic alteration that can possibly impact aquatic habitat in the study region. The hydrological model Hydrologiska Byråns Vattenbalansavdelning (HBV) was calibrated, validated, and applied to predict streamflow in the Chitral River basin. The HBV model was fed by the ensemble of four general circulation models under different representative concentration pathway emission scenarios to generate future streamflow under climate change conditions in the basin for the mid-twenty-first century. The results of this study show that hydrologic regimes in the study area, expressed by the magnitude, duration, frequency, timing, and rate of streamflow, are likely to alter in the future. Positive (i.e., with increased frequency) hydrologic alteration is projected for most flow parameters under all scenarios for the 2021–2050 period compared with values observed during the historical period (1976–2005). These hydrologic alterations might have impact on fish and migratory bird species in the study area. This research can be helpful in providing practical information for more effective water resources and aquatic ecosystem management in the Hindukush–Karakoram–Himalayan region.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Investigation of changes in the hydrologic regime of the Chitral River.

  • Employment of IHA and RVA methods to evaluate riverine ecosystem health.

  • Hydrological modelling using HBV-light to generate future streamflow.

  • Assessment of climate change impacts on different streamflow characteristics.

  • Analysis of streamflow changes and their relationship with aquatic habitat.

Graphical Abstract

Graphical Abstract
Graphical Abstract
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Supplementary data