The Bjerknes Centre is a collaboration on climate research, between the University of Bergen, NORCE, the Institute of Marine Research, Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Centre.

Beas river at Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India. The Beas is a tributary of the Indus river and it was chosen as a case study in the NORINDIA project, funded by the Norwegian Research Council. Photo: Vivekanand Honnungar.

Forecasting water resources of the Indus River Basin 

Climate change could bring about major disruption for the Indus River and for the millions of people who depend on it. Yet why is it still so challenging to forecast the future of the Indus’ water resources? Michel Mesquita, Lu Li and others investigate that in their new book chapter.


Written by Michel d. S. Mesquita, Senior research scientist at the Bjerknes Centre and NORCE.

For millennia, the Indus valley civilizations have learned how to manage the waters of the Indus river water system. However, climate change could bring about unforeseeable impacts to the growing population in the region and it could hinder the emerging needs of the energy-food-water nexus for short and long-term decision making. 

In addition to that, changes in monsoon variability, and snow and glacier melt timing and amount may lead to extreme events, such as droughts over the Asian plains and flooding in the neighboring Himalayas. 

Although global and regional climate models have advanced our knowledge on future changes in the climate system, there are still uncertainties and knowledge gap in representing the precipitation systems associated with the Asian summer monsoon and the winter and pre-monsoon western disturbances. 

Lu Li and I have worked on this together with partners in India, the United States and Oslo. In our latest book chapter, we discuss the challenges in estimating the current and future hydrological cycle in the Hindu-Kush-Himalayan region in general, and the Indus river basin in particular, and why it is of utmost importance that we do so.


Mesquita, M.d.S., Orsolini, Y.J., Pal, I., Veldore, V., Li, L., Raghavan, K., Panandiker, A.M., Honnungar, V., Gochis, D., Burkhart, J.F. (2019) ‘Challenges in forecasting water resources of the Indus River basin: lessons from the analysis and modeling of atmospheric and hydrological processes’ in Khan, S. and Adams, T. (ed.) Indus River Basin. Cambridge: Elsevier, pp. 57-79.