Impact of climate change on flood frequency and intensity in the kabul river basin

Muhammad Shahid Iqbal*, Zakir Hussain Dahri, Erik P. Querner, Asif Khan, Nynke Hofstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Devastating floods adversely affect human life and infrastructure. Various regions of the Hindukush-Karakoram-Himalayas receive intense monsoon rainfall, which, together with snow and glacier melt, produce intense floods. The Kabul river basin originates from the Hindukush Mountains and is frequently hit by such floods. We analyses flood frequency and intensity in Kabul basin for a contemporary period (1981-2015) and two future periods (i.e., 2031-2050 and 2081-2100) using the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios based on four bias-corrected downscaled climate models (INM-CM4, IPSL-CM5A, EC-EARTH, and MIROC5). Future floods are modelled with the SWAT hydrological model. The model results suggest an increasing trend due to an increasing precipitation and higher temperatures (based on all climate models except INM-CM4), which accelerates snow and glacier-melt. All of the scenario results show that the current flow with a 1 in 50 year return period is likely to occur more frequently (i.e., 1 in every 9-10 years and 2-3 years, respectively) during the near and far future periods. Such increases in intensity and frequency are likely to adversely affect downstream population and infrastructures. This, therefore, urges for appropriate early precautionary mitigation measures. This study can assist water managers and policy makers in their preparation to adequately plan for and manage flood protection. Its findings are also relevant for other basins in the Hindukush-Karakoram-Himalayas region.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Climate-change
  • Floods
  • GCMs
  • Kabul basin
  • SWAT model

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