Dynamic modeling of the Ganga river system: impacts of future climate and socio-economic change on flows and nitrogen fluxes in India and Bangladesh

Abstract

This study investigates the potential impacts of future climate and socio-economic change on the flow and nitrogen fluxes of the Ganga river system. This is the first basin scale water quality study for the Ganga considering climate change at 25 km resolution together with socio-economic scenarios. The revised dynamic, process-based INCA model was used to simulate hydrology and water quality within the complex multi-branched river basins. All climate realizations utilized in the study predict increases in temperature and rainfall by the 2050s with significant increase by the 2090s. These changes generate associated increases in monsoon flows and increased availability of water for groundwater recharge and irrigation, but also more frequent flooding. Decreased concentrations of nitrate and ammonia are expected due to increased dilution. Different future socio-economic scenarios were found to have a significant impact on water quality at the downstream end of the Ganga. A less sustainable future resulted in a deterioration of water quality due to the pressures from higher population growth, land use change, increased sewage treatment discharges, enhanced atmospheric nitrogen deposition, and water abstraction. However, water quality was found to improve under a more sustainable strategy as envisaged in the Ganga clean-up plan.

Citation

Whitehead, P.G.; Sarkar, S.; Jin, L.; Futter, M.N.; Caesar, J.; Barbour, E.; Butterfield, D.; Sinha, R.; Nicholls, R.; Hutton, C.; Leckie, H.D. Dynamic modeling of the Ganga river system: impacts of future climate and socio-economic change on flows and nitrogen fluxes in India and Bangladesh. Environmental Science: Processes and Impacts (2015) 17 (6) 1082-1097. [DOI: 10.1039/C4EM00616J]

Dynamic modeling of the Ganga river system: impacts of future climate and socio-economic change on flows and nitrogen fluxes in India and Bangladesh

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