In the Himalayan region, several countries and their hydrological system are affected by climate change. Northern India is one of the regions that rely on the summer monsoon and glacier snow melt for their water resources. Climate change triggers the retreat of Himalayan glaciers and possible changes of the Indian monsoon, thereby impacting the distribution of water. Hence, northern India needs damage-reducing techniques to adapt to the effects of climate change on its hydrological system.
The use of indicators in the water sector has become more important in recent years, especially for providing systematical assessment and guidance towards the managing of natural resources. In the HighNoon project, an indicator framework has been developed to describe and visualise the impact of climate change on northern India’s hydrological system as well as to assess the effectiveness of adaptation measures. This set of indicators aims at characterizing the impact of climate change on different sectors, taking into account the baseline and future water resources and livelihood status of the region. The project was funded under the European Commission seventh framework programme (FP7), a grant funding programme, and ended in May 2012. The project brought together nine partners from Europe and Asia. It was coordinated by the Alterra - Wageningen University and Research Centre in
The set of indicators is based on an information and observation system. The indicators describe the current status of land and water resources via a Global Information System (GIS) visualization. The framework includes indicators concerning:
- Water availability and demand,
- Water quality,
- Environment and health, and
The starting-point for establishing the indicator framework was the experience gained from the integrated project Aquastress, in which a system of complex and multi parametric indicators has been developed. The framework consists of a combination of the Integrated Sectoral Water Stress Index (ISWSI) and the Potential Margin (PM). The ISWSI captures the level of water stress resulting from sectoral demand, showing the level of water stress across the different sectors as well as the type of associated stress. The PM is an assessment of the available water resource supply, indicating the degree of dependence on local and imported water and the available safety margins. The indicators were complemented with three local case studies in the north-Indian region, in which stakeholders defined a specific set of indicators for every case.
The indicators have been implemented within an online software tool, so that the framework can be used in strategic planning processes by policy makers for instance. This indicator framework tool can facilitate identifying adaptation measures as well as evaluating the impacts from these measures across sectors and scales. The technology readiness level of the tool is estimated to be 6 on the TRL scale, according to the scope of the seventh framework programme, which provides public grant partial funding for R&D. Model output data and field data are used for calculations and a user friendly interface has been developed for deploying the indicator framework. It is linked to the hydrological Information System for India called NATCOM. This is an interactive website that gathers information all of India’s river basins. Many model results and analysis of climate change research are presented in this platform, including the results obtained via the indicator framework of the present project.