Water Vulnerability Assessment at sub-basins level in Nepal

Authors: Kripa Thapa*, , Simon Brewer, Department of Geography, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA , Timothy Collins, Department of Geography, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA , Summer Rupper, Department of Geography, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA
Topics: Cryosphere, Physical Geography, Asia
Keywords: Water Vulnerability Assessment, Nepal, glaciers, geography, cryosphere
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 40
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Glacier melt contributes significantly to the flow of major Nepalese rivers, especially during the dry seasons. The present glacier mass loss rate is resulting in a rise in glacier contribution to water resources, particularly at high elevations. Hydrological models predict that enhanced glacier melt will continue to increase the summer river flow in many Nepalese hydrological basins through 2050. This leads up to continued glacier mass loss and area decrease will result in a vast reduction of glacial runoff and downstream water availability. While our understanding of glacier melt contribution to water resources is increasing, there is still significant uncertainty in what role it plays at the sub-basin scale and within the context of other socio-economic variables that influence water demand.
We use historical observations and model projections for the environmental variables that form the supply and demand indices, such as glacier runoff, precipitation, snowpack, streamflow along with irrigation, domestic and industrial usage. The socio-economic component includes identifying populations most vulnerable to the impacts of potential water scarcity in the coming decades. We use the vulnerability index to investigate the environmental and socio-economic variables such as GDP per capita, population density, and temperature that influence Nepal’s hydrological supply and demand patterns and explore relationships between them. The study will elucidate the primary drivers of water vulnerability in the region, determine water availability per capita by 2050, and provide a framework to help combat potential water scarcity that will be of interest to policymakers and researchers in the long run.

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