polar bear

Arctic hydrologic cycle


Arctic Hydrology

Global greenhouse warming is already impacting the Arctic regions of the world to a greater extent than in temperate and tropical regions. Changes in snow accumulation and melting, a reduction in the extent of sea ice and increases in freshwater fluxes to the Arctic Ocean have already been observed. Freshwater inputs exert a surprisingly large impact on the water circulation of the Arctic Ocean and on the global ocean circulation as well.

Data for drainage basins throughout the Arctic are archived at the University of New Hampshire in the Global Hydrological Archive and Analysis System (GHAAS) for use in drainage basin modeling. This GIS-based system allows the efficient development of relationships between watershed characteristics, climate and river discharge. More than 40 data layers are currently available in GIS format on a pan-arctic and global scale including river networks, elevation, vegetation, geology, permafrost, soils, fertilizer use, population, lakes and reservoirs, runoff and climate. A validated model is providing the basis for prediction of monthly runoff from all arctic rivers to the Arctic Ocean under conditions predicted by climate and land surface models for future decades.

This view of the Arctic hydrological cycle shows key linkages among land, ocean, and atmosphere. Quantifying the coupling of these components within the Arctic and to the larger Earth system remains an important yet unresolved research issue. The hydrological cycle is inextricably connected to all biological and chemical processes occurring in the biosphere, atmosphere, and cryosphere. Hydrologic interactions with terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and their biogeochemistry control all life in the pan-Arctic region.


Arctic Data Products:

Arctic CHAMP


Pan-Arctic Drainage System


Western Arctic Linkage Experiment