Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

The Cryosphere


Anthropogenic warming in the Arctic is causing hydrological cycle intensification and permafrost thaw, with implications for flows of water, carbon, and energy from terrestrial biomes to coastal zones. To better understand the likely impacts of these changes, we used a hydrology model driven by meteorological data from atmospheric reanalysis and two global climate models for the period 1980–2100. The hydrology model accounts for soil freeze–thaw processes and was applied across the pan-Arctic drainage basin. The simulations point to greater changes over northernmost areas of the basin underlain by permafrost and to the western Arctic. An acceleration of simulated river discharge over the recent past is commensurate with trends drawn from observations and reported in other studies. Between early-century (2000–2019) and late-century (2080–2099) periods, the model simulations indicate an increase in annual total runoff of 17 %–25 %, while the proportion of runoff emanating from subsurface pathways is projected to increase by 13 %–30 %, with the largest changes noted in summer and autumn and across areas with permafrost. Most notably, runoff contributions to river discharge shift to northern parts of the Arctic Basin that contain greater amounts of soil carbon. Each season sees an increase in subsurface runoff; spring is the only season where surface runoff dominates the rise in total runoff, and summer experiences a decline in total runoff despite an increase in the subsurface component. The greater changes that are seen in areas where permafrost exists support the notion that increased soil thaw is shifting hydrological contributions to more subsurface flow. The manifestations of warming, hydrological cycle intensification, and permafrost thaw will impact Arctic terrestrial and coastal environments through altered river flows and the materials they transport.







UMass Amherst Open Access Policy

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.