University of Hertfordshire

From the same journal

By the same authors


  • Ann V. Rowan
  • Duncan J. Quincey
  • Morgan J. Gibson
  • Neil F. Glasser
  • Matthew J. Westoby
  • Tristam D. L. Irvine-Fynn
  • Philip Porter
  • Michael J. Hambrey
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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalGeological Society Special Publication
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


High Mountain Asia contains the largest volume of glacier ice outside the Polar regions, and contain the headwaters of some of the largest rivers in central Asia. These glaciers are losing mass at a mean rate of between –0.18 ± 0.04 m and –0.5 m water equivalent per year. While glaciers in the Himalaya are generally shrinking, those in the Karakoram have experienced a slight mass gain. Both changes have occurred in response to rising air temperatures due to Northern Hemisphere climatic change. In the Westerly influenced Indus catchment, glacier meltwater makes up a large proportion of the hydrological budget, and loss of glacier mass will ultimately lead to a decrease in water supplies. In the monsoon-influenced Ganges and Brahmaputra catchments, the contribution of glacial meltwater is relatively small compared to the Indus, and the decrease in annual water supplies will be less dramatic. Therefore, enhanced glacier melt will increase river flows until the middle of the 21st Century, but in the longer-term into the latter part of this century, river flows will decline as glaciers shrink. Declining meltwater supplies may be compensated by increases in precipitation, but this could exacerbate the risk of flooding.


This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of the following article: Rowan, Ann V., et al, ‘The sustainability of water resources in High Mountain Asia in the context of recent and future glacier change’, Geological Society of London, Vol. 462, November 2017. Under embargo until 1 November 2018. The final, definitive version is available online at doi:

ID: 12818673