The arctic freshwater system: Changes and impacts Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Dramatic changes have been observed in the Arctic over the last century. Many of these involve the storage and cycling of fresh water. On land, precipitation and river discharge, lake abundance and size, glacier area and volume, soil moisture, and a variety of permafrost characteristics have changed. In the ocean, sea ice thickness and areal coverage have decreased and water mass circulation patterns have shifted, changing freshwater pathways and sea ice cover dynamics. Precipitation onto the ocean surface has also changed. Such changes are expected to continue, and perhaps accelerate, in the coming century, enhanced by complex feedbacks between the oceanic, atmospheric, and terrestrial freshwater systems. Change to the arctic freshwater system heralds changes for our global physical and ecological environment as well as human activities in the Arctic. In this paper we review observed changes in the arctic freshwater system over the last century in terrestrial, atmospheric, and oceanic systems.

publication date

  • December 2007