Rapid climate change is impacting water resources in Afghanistan. The consequences are poorly known. Suitable mitigation and adaptation strategies have not been developed. Thus, this paper summarizes current status of knowledge in relation to Afghan water resources. More than 130 scientific articles, reports and data sources are synthesized to review the potential impacts of climate change on the cryosphere, streamflow, groundwater and hydrological extremes. The available information suggests that Afghanistan is currently witnessing significant increases in temperature, less so precipitation. There is evidence of shifts in the intra-annual distribution of streamflow, with reduced summer flows in non-glaciated basins and increased winter and spring streamflow. However, in the short-term there will be an increase in summer ice melt in glaciated basins, a “glacial subsidy”, which sustains summer streamflow, despite reduced snow accumulation. The future prognosis for water resources is likely to be more serious when this glacier subsidy ends. A copy is freely available here.
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