Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 15, Issue 10, pp 2218–2235 | Cite as

Projection of future streamflow of the Hunza River Basin, Karakoram Range (Pakistan) using HBV hydrological model

  • Ayaz Fateh Ali
  • Cun-de XiaoEmail author
  • Xiao-peng Zhang
  • Muhammad Adnan
  • Mudassar Iqbal
  • Garee Khan


Hydrologiska Byrans Vattenbalansavdeling (HBV) Light model was used to evaluate the performance of the model in response to climate change in the snowy and glaciated catchment area of Hunza River Basin. The study aimed to understand the temporal variation of streamflow of Hunza River and its contribution to Indus River System (IRS). HBV model performed fairly well both during calibration (R2=0.87, Reff=0.85, PBIAS=−0.36) and validation (R2=0.86, Reff=0.83, PBIAS=−13.58) periods on daily time scale in the Hunza River Basin. Model performed better on monthly time scale with slightly underestimated low flows period during both calibration (R2=0.94, Reff=0.88, PBIAS=0.47) and validation (R2=0.92, Reff=0.85, PBIAS=15.83) periods. Simulated streamflow analysis from 1995–2010 unveiled that the average percentage contribution of snow, rain and glacier melt to the streamflow of Hunza River is about 16.5%, 19.4% and 64% respectively. In addition, the HBV-Light model performance was also evaluated for prediction of future streamflow in the Hunza River using future projected data of three General Circulation Model (GCMs) i.e. BCC-CSM1.1, CanESM2, and MIROCESM under RCP2.6, 4.5 and 8.5 and predictions were made over three time periods, 2010–2039, 2040–2069 and 2070–2099, using 1980–2010 as the control period. Overall projected climate results reveal that temperature and precipitation are the most sensitive parameters to the streamflow of Hunza River. MIROC-ESM predicted the highest increase in the future streamflow of the Hunza River due to increase in temperature and precipitation under RCP4.5 and 8.5 scenarios from 2010–2099 while predicted slight increase in the streamflow under RCP2.6 during the start and end of the 21th century. However, BCCCSM1.1 predicted decrease in the streamflow under RCP8.5 due to decrease in temperature and precipitation from 2010–2099. However, CanESM2 predicted 22%-88% increase in the streamflow under RCP4.5 from 2010–2099. The results of this study could be useful for decision making and effective future strategic plans for water management and their sustainability in the region.


HBV Light model Hydrological modeling Hunza River Upper Indus Basin Snow and glacier-melt 


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This study is supported by the National Natural Science foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41690145 and 41670158). We are thankful to the Surface Water Hydrology Project (SWHP) of Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) for providing the hydro-meteorological data to conduct this study.


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Science, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and ResourcesChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Land Surface and Resource EcologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of land Surface Process and Climate Change in Cold and Arid Regions, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and ResourcesChinese Academy of SciencesLanzhouChina
  5. 5.Department of Earth SciencesKarakoram International UniversityGilgitPakistan

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