PAMIR - Impact of climate change on the water balance of a river basin in the Pamir


Large river systems originating in high mountains often form an important and reliable water source for downstream located arid regions. How fast and to what extend these rivers are impacted by climate change due to retreating glaciers and associated decreases of meltwater will depend on the amount of base flow contributing to river discharge. The investigations of the PAMIR joint project which have an emphasis on investigations of the groundwater-surface water interaction in large mountain catchments spatially focus on the Gunt River catchment in the Pamir mountains of Tajikistan.

Remote sensing, isotope geochemistry and hydrological modeling will be used to understand and quantify the relevant groundwater-surface water interaction processes at catchment scale. The diverse parameters of the complex hydro(geo)logical system, i.e. precipitation, glacier formation and runoff, groundwater and surface water dynamics, will be recorded using a broad methodological spectrum in order to model and extrapolate the effects of climate change to the region.

The available data-set includes the long-term meteorological, hydrological and glaciological record and will be digitized and made available in a data-storage. The existing monitoring program covering sources, levels, and glacier dimensions is planned to be completed and to be complemented by installation of new modern runoff monitoring stations. The current status of the of the Gunt Rivers’ hydrological system will be monitored in considerably higher detail by use of additional tracer and isotope methods. On the basis of the resulting much more detailed data, conceptual model assumptions will be developed with regard to the various subsystems contributing to the total runoff, such as tributaries or groundwater shares. A hydrodynamic model based on JAMS will be created in order to simulate various possible scenarios with different boundary conditions which are in turn enabling to analyze their potential risk for the Greater West-Tibet/Pamir to the Aral Sea.

Involved institutes and working groups

UFZ Halle, Fachbereich Wasser- und Bodenforschung

UFZ Halle, Department of Catchment Hydrology

TU Freiberg, Institut für Geologie, Remote Sensing Group