The Kunduz River is one of the main tributaries of the Amu Darya Basin in North Afghanistan. Many communities live in the Kunduz River Basin (KRB), and its water resources have been the basis of their livelihoods for many generations. This study investigates climate change impacts on the KRB catchment. Rare station data are, for the first time, used to analyze systematic trends in temperature, precipitation, and river discharge over the past few decades, while using Mann–Kendall and Theil–Sen trend statistics. The trends show that the hydrology of the basin changed significantly over the last decades. A comparison of landcover data of the river basin from 1992 and 2019 shows significant changes that have additional impact on the basin hydrology, which are used to interpret the trend analysis. There is considerable uncertainty due to the data scarcity and gaps in the data, but all results indicate a strong tendency towards drier conditions. An extreme warming trend, partly above 2 °C since the 1960s in combination with a dramatic precipitation decrease by more than −30% lead to a strong decrease in river discharge. The increasing glacier melt compensates the decreases and leads to an increase in runoff only in the highland parts of the upper catchment. The reduction of water availability and the additional stress on the land leads to a strong increase of barren land and a reduction of vegetation cover. The detected trends and changes in the basin hydrology demand an active management of the already scarce water resources in order to sustain water supply for agriculture and ecosystems in the KRB.
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