A pan-arctic evaluation of changes in river discharge during the latter half of the 20th century

James W. McClelland, Stephen J. Déry, Bruce J. Peterson, Robert M. Holmes, Eric F. Wood

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294 Scopus citations


Several recent publications have documented changes in river discharge from arctic and subarctic watersheds. Comparison of these findings, however, has been hampered by differences in time periods and methods of analysis. Here we compare changes in discharge from different regions of the pan-arctic watershed using identical time periods and analytical methods. Discharge to the Arctic Ocean increased by 5.6 km3 /y/y during 1964-2000, the net result of a large increase from Eurasia moderated by a small decrease from North America. In contrast, discharge to Hudson/James/Ungava Bays decreased by 2.5 km3/y/y during 1964-2000. While this evaluation identifies an overall increase in discharge (∼120 km3/y greater discharge at the end of the time period as compared to the beginning for Hudson/James/Unvaga Bays and the Arctic Ocean combined), the contrasting regional trends also highlight the need to understand the consequences of adding/removing freshwater from particular regions of the arctic and subarctic oceans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL06715
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 28 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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