While increases in the severity of extreme events of both flood and drought seem likely there is some uncertainty regarding the long-term outlook for water resources in Pakistan. In the context of Pakistan’s heavy reliance on the Indus Basin for its water resource, the uncertainty around future glacial change is significant. The impact of climate change on the Karakoram glaciers has been the subject of debate, with some studies suggesting glaciers have been increasing in size due to increased winter rainfall. A review conducted by UNDP (2017) shows shortcomings in these studies, particularly related to the lack of a comprehensive inventory of Upper Indus Basin glaciers. In the shorter-term, the climate change impacts on water resources in Pakistan may be of lesser significance in comparison with the issues presented by growing human demand for water and other issues including the poor efficiency of Pakistan’s irrigation and water storage systems. UNDP emphasizes the strong likelihood that longer-term temperature rises will result in glacial loss, and reductions in the runoff which feeds the Indus, as well as changes to its seasonal profile. The extent to which changes in rainfall might offset this loss is uncertain.
This section provides insights into projected climate change impacts on various hydrological indicators.