Knowledge priorities on climate change and water in the Upper Indus Basin: a horizon scanning exercise to identify the top 100 research questions in social and natural sciences

Andrew Orr*, Bashir Ahmad, Undala Alam, ArivudaiNambi Appadurai, Zareen P. Bharucha, Hester Biemans, Tobias Bolch, Narayan P. Chaulagain, Sanita Dhaubanjar, A. P. Dimri, Harry Dixon, Hayley Fowler, Giovanna Gioli, Sarah J. Halvorson, Abid Hussain, Ghulam Jeelani, Simi Kamal, Imran Khalid, Shiyin Liu, Arthur LutzMeeta K. Mehra, Evan Miles, Andrea Momblanch, Veruska Muccione, Aditi Mukherji, Daanish Mustafa, Omaid Najmuddin, Mohammad N. Nasimi, Marcus Nüsser, Vishnu P. Pandey, Sitara Parveen, Francesca Pellicciotti, Carmel Pollino, Emily Potter, Mohammad R. Qazizada, Saon Ray, Shakil Romshoo, Syamal K. Sarkar, Amiera Sawas, Sumit Sen, Attaullah Shah, Azeem Shah, Joseph M. Shea, Ali T. Sheikh, Arun B. Shrestha, Shresth Tayal, Snehlata Tigala, Zeeshan T. Virk, Philippus Wester, James Wescoat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


River systems originating from the Upper Indus Basin (UIB) are dominated by runoff from snow and glacier melt and summer monsoonal rainfall. These water resources are highly stressed as huge populations of people living in this region depend on them, including for agriculture, domestic use, and energy production. Projections suggest that the UIB region will be affected by considerable (yet poorly quantified) changes to the seasonality and composition of runoff in the future, which are likely to have considerable impacts on these supplies. Given how directly and indirectly communities and ecosystems are dependent on these resources and the growing pressure on them due to ever-increasing demands, the impacts of climate change pose considerable adaptation challenges. The strong linkages between hydroclimate, cryosphere, water resources, and human activities within the UIB suggest that a multi- and inter-disciplinary research approach integrating the social and natural/environmental sciences is critical for successful adaptation to ongoing and future hydrological and climate change. Here we use a horizon scanning technique to identify the Top 100 questions related to the most pressing knowledge gaps and research priorities in social and natural sciences on climate change and water in the UIB. These questions are on the margins of current thinking and investigation and are clustered into 14 themes, covering three overarching topics of 'governance, policy, and sustainable solutions', 'socioeconomic processes and livelihoods', and 'integrated Earth System processes'. Raising awareness of these cutting-edge knowledge gaps and opportunities will hopefully encourage researchers, funding bodies, practitioners, and policy makers to address them.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021EF002619
Number of pages22
JournalEarth's Future
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2022


  • Upper Indus Basin
  • Horizon Scan
  • Climate Change
  • Water
  • Priority Questions
  • Knowledge Gaps


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