Mr. Talha Afzal Kohistani is a graduate of Government and Public Policy from National Defence University, Islamabad.

DOI: http://DOI Number

Keywords: cryosphere, permafrost, hydro-met changes, Upper Indus Basin (UIB), glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), adaptation actions, elevation-dependent warming (EDW)


The Hindu Kush-Karakoram-Himalaya (HKH) region is strongly impacted by climate change, particularly the Upper Indus Basin (UIB). This study evaluates the effects of global warming on the cryosphere by looking at data on glaciers, snow cover, and permafrost. The HKH glaciers are melting more quickly than expected, possibly losing 80% of their mass by 2100. The longer melting season is reducing UIB snow cover, while permafrost is also thawing. This may have implications for Pakistan’s crucial Indus River. The water input of UIB may increase until the 2060s before decreasing as a result of glacier mass loss. Flood frequency may increase due to increased melting and severe monsoons. Glacier melt may also increase the probability of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), while river sedimentation exacerbates all these problems. Permafrost thawing, besides causing the landslides, may affect lowland soil fertility, and water quality. Dependence on existing data might lead to limitations, resulting in potential biases or research gaps. The study makes important recommendations in light of these challenges. Developing effective early warning systems, implementing nature-based adaptations, increasing research and data collection, integrating local populations in decision-making, and engaging in climate diplomacy stand out as essential measures.

First Published

June 25, 2023

How to Cite

Talha Afzal Kohistani, “Thawing Treasures: Climate Change and its Toll on the Upper Indus Basin’s Cryosphere”, Regional Studies 41, no.1 (Summer 2023): 21-36 https://regionalstudies.com.pk/wp/article/thawing-treasures-climate-change-and-its-toll-on-the-upper-indus-basins-cryosphere/(opens in a new tab)


Volume 41, Issue 1