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Integrated modeling for assessing climate change impacts on water resources and hydropower potential in the Himalayas

Publication Type
Journal Name
Theoretical and Applied Climatology
Publication Date
Page Numbers
1 to 16

Regional hydroclimatic variability and change can affect water resources and hydropower generation. It is essential to assess hydropower potential under current and future climatic conditions to inform the design and operation of hydropower infrastructures. Here, we employ an integrated modeling framework to assess the impact of projected hydroclimatic conditions on water resource systems and hydropower generation. The integrated framework samples climate model outputs under different scenarios to force a hydrologic model and produces streamflow projections. The projected streamflows are inputs for the future hydropower potential assessment. We implement the framework in the central Himalayan river basin. Our results demonstrate substantial spatiotemporal variability in different water balance components (precipitation, evapotranspiration, and water yield) under current and future climatic conditions. For the Himalayan Tila river basin, the annual average energy production is expected to increase under future hydroclimatic conditions (up to 39% in Tila-2 hydropower project, suggested by ensemble mean). This increase in energy is driven mainly by the increased streamflow projections, particularly during the dry season and in the late century. Our results highlight the impacts of hydroclimatic variability in hydropower productions and are of practical use to provide decision-relevant information for designing and operating hydropower infrastructures. The integrated modeling framework presented here is region-specific; however, the approach is reproducible, and the overall insights are generalizable across the Himalayan region.