Bulletin of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Chinese Version)


Asian Water Tower (AWT); High Asia; socioeconomic effects; Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Document Type



Asian Water Tower (AWT) provides population in High Asia and broader areas in downstream with critical water resource, creating significant socioeconomic values. It is also unreplaceable in regional economic development in central and south Asia. Moreover, the associated region is an example of regional development to share the common future in Road and Belt Initiatives. This article shed a light on and provides various examples about AWT's socioeconomic effects in High Asia Region. Not only does it support the regional development, but also the competition for AWT's water resources due to its increasing scarcity in dryland would potentially bring in conflicts. That would become even more uncertain and challenging when the deterioration of AWT is considered as a result of climate change. It would then fundamentally change the future development in High Asia Region. Therefore, it is urgent to respond and adapt to the change by developing sustainable pathways. This article further address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are most concerned by the countries in High Asia Region, and illustrate the relations of the cryosphere services of AWT to the implementation of SDGs.

First page


Last Page





Bulletin of Chinese Academy of Sciences


Beniston M. Climatic change in mountain regions:A review of possible impacts. Climatic Change, 2003, 59(1-2):5-31.

Xu X, Lu C, Shi X, et al. World water tower:An atmospheric perspective. Geophysical Research Letters, 2008, 35(20):L20815.

Chen X, Nordhaus W D. Using luminosity data as a proxy for economic statistics. PNAS, 2011, 108(21):8589-8594.

姜彤, 赵晶, 曹丽格, 等.共享社会经济路径下中国及分省经济变化预测.气候变化研究进展, 2018, 14(1):50-58.

姜彤, 王艳君, 袁佳双, 等. "一带一路"沿线国家2020-2060年人口经济发展情景预测.气候变化研究进展, 2018, 14(2):155-164.

Kraaijenbrink P D A, Bierkens M F P, Lutz A F, et al. Impact of a global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius on Asia's glaciers. Nature, 2017, 549(7671):257-260.

Huss M, Hock R. Global-scale hydrological response to future glacier mass loss. Nature Climate Change, 2018, 8(2):135-140.

Immerzeel W W, Pellicciotti F, Bierkens M F P. Rising river flows throughout the twenty-first century in two Himalayan glacierized watersheds. Nature Geoscience, 2013, 6(9):742-745.

Radić V, Hock R. Regionally differentiated contribution of mountain glaciers and ice caps to future sea-level rise. Nature Geoscience, 2011, 4(2):91-94.

Biemans H, Siderius C, Lutz A F, et al. Importance of snow and glacier meltwater for agriculture on the Indo-Gangetic Plain. Nature Sustainability, 2019, 2(7):594-601.

Lutz A F, Immerzeel W W, Shrestha A B, et al. Consistent increase in High Asia's runoff due to increasing glacier melt and precipitation. Nature Climate Change, 2014, 4(7):587-592.

Pritchard H D. Asia's shrinking glaciers protect large populations from drought stress. Nature, 2019, 569(7758):649-654.

Laghari A N, Vanham D, Rauch W. The Indus basin in the framework of current and future water resources management. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 2012, 16(4):1063.

Immerzeel W W, van Beek L P H, Bierkens M F P. Climate change will affect the Asian Water Towers. Science, 2010, 328(5984):1382-1385.

International Monetary Fund. Issues in Managing Water Challenges and Policy Instruments: Regional Perspectives and Case Studies.[2015-06-01]. https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/sdn/2015/sdn1511tn.pdf?hootPostID=878.

National Research Council. Himalayan Glaciers:Climate Change, Water Resources, and Water Security. Washington DC:The National Academies Press, 2012.

Zarfl C, Lumsdon A E, Berlekamp J, et al. A global boom in hydropower dam construction. Aquatic Sciences, 2015, 77(1):161-170.

World Economic Forum. The Global Risks Report 2016.[2016-01-14]. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GRR/WEF_GRR16.pdf.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. AQUASTAT-FAO's global information system on water and agriculture.[2019-10-14]. http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/main/index.stm.

Schleussner C F, Donges J F, Donner R V, et al. Armed-conflict risks enhanced by climate-related disasters in ethnically fractionalized countries. PNAS, 2016, 113(33):9216-9221.

效存德, 苏勃, 王晓明, 等.冰冻圈功能及其服务衰退的级联风险.科学通报, 2019, 64(19):1975-1984.

Su B, Xiao C D, Chen D L, et al. Cryosphere services and human well-being, Sustainability, 2019, 11: 4365.

Leemans R, de Groot R. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment:Ecosystems and Human Well-being:A Framework for Assessment. Washington DC:Island Press, 2003.

Trucost ESG Analysis. Natural capital at risk: The top 100 externalities of business.[2013-04-15]. https://www.trucost.com/publication/natural-capital-risk-top-100-externalitiesbusiness/.

Andermann C, Longuevergne L, Bonnet S, et al. Impact of transient groundwater storage on the discharge of Himalayan rivers. Nature Geoscience, 2012, 5(2):127.

Yatagai A, Kamiguchi K, Arakawa O, et al. APHRODITE:Constructing a long-term daily gridded precipitation dataset for Asia based on a dense network of rain gauges. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2012, 93(9):1401-1415.

Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform. Voluntary National Reviews Database.[2019-10-14]. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/vnrs/.

IPCC. Climate Change 2014:Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Cambridge, New York:Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Wang X M, Liu S W, Zhang J L. A new look at roles of the cryosphere in sustainable development. Advances in Climate Change Research, 2019, 10(2):124-131.

Brooks T M, Mittermeier R A, da Fonseca G A B, et al. Global biodiversity conservation priorities. Science, 2006, 313(5783):58-61.