Decreasing river discharge in northern Canada

Stephen J. Déry, Eric F. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

219 Scopus citations


Freshwater discharge to high-latitude oceans in 64 Canadian rivers is investigated. The mean annual discharge rate attains 1252 km3 yr-1 for an area of 5.6 × 106 km2, equating to a sink of 225 mm yr-1 in the surface water budget of northern Canada (excluding the Arctic Archipelago where insufficient data exist). Application of the Mann-Kendall test to the data reveals a 10% decrease (-125 km3 yr-1 or -22 mm yr-1) in the total annual river discharge to the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans from 1964 to 2003. This trend in river runoff is consistent with a 21 mm yr-1 decline in observed precipitation over northern Canada between 1964 and 2000. We find evidence of statistically-significant links between the Arctic Oscillation, El Niño/Southern Oscillation, and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation to the total annual freshwater discharge in northern Canada's rivers at interannual-to-decadal timescales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 28 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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