Snow cover dynamics and hydrological regime of the Hunza River basin, Karakoram Range, Northern Pakistan
Abstract. A major proportion of flow in the Indus River is contributed by its snow- and glacier-fed river catchments situated in the Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindukush ranges. It is therefore essential to understand the cryosphere dynamics in this area for water resource management. The MODIS MOD10A2 remote-sensing database of snow cover products from March 2000 to December 2009 was selected to analyse the snow cover changes in the Hunza River basin (the snow- and glacier-fed sub-catchment of the Indus River). A database of daily flows for the Hunza River at Dainyor Bridge over a period of 40 yr and climate data (precipitation and temperature) for 10 yr from three meteorological stations within the catchment was made available to investigate the hydrological regime in the area. Analysis of remotely sensed cryosphere (snow and ice cover) data during the last decade (2000–2009) suggest a rather slight expansion of cryosphere in the area in contrast to most of the regions in the world where glaciers are melting rapidly. This increase in snow cover may be the result of an increase in winter precipitation caused by westerly circulation. The impact of global warming is not effective because a large part of the basin area lies under high altitudes where the temperature remains negative throughout most of the year.