Variability of ice sheet thickness and water temperature in Arctic major rivers

Monday, 15 December 2014
Hotaek PARK, JAMSTEC, Yokosuka, Japan, Yasuhiro Yoshikawa, Kitami Institute of Technology, Kitami, Japan and Kazuhiro Oshima, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science & Technology, Yokosuka, Japan
Increasing river discharge to the Arctic Ocean is a very significant change in the Arctic system. Increase in surface temperature in the Arctic over the past decades was exceptionally higher in the history of arctic observations. The increased temperature resulted in changes in ice freezing and melting and water temperature in Arctic rivers. However, there are significant knowledge gaps in our understanding of the river-ice dynamics and river water temperature. Therefore, we assessed changes in ice sheet thickness, the timing of ice freezing and melting, and water temperature in Arctic major rivers during the period 1979–2009, based on observations and a hydrological model. The model can estimate ice thickness and water temperature using air temperature, snow depth, and river discharge. The calculated ice thickness and water temperature were compared with observations, showing generally significant correlations. The observed and calculated maximum ice thickness indicated decreasing trends at the outlet and inner points of rivers. The timing of ice breakup was also advanced. These changes were mostly significant during the recent three decades when the increase in air temperature was significant. The model also estimated increasing water temperatures, which is consistent with the observations. The warming of water temperature suggests influences on heat budget in the Arctic Ocean. This study validated the applicability for river-ice calculation of the hydrological model, and the model simulation provided useful information relating to the changing river-ice environments in the Arctic rivers.