Yukon River Basin long-term (1977–2006) hydrologic and climatic analysis


Correspondence to: Shaoqing Ge, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA.

E-mail: geshaoqing@gmail.com


In this study, long-term discharge data and climate records, such as temperature and precipitation during 1977–2006, have been used to define basin climatic and hydrologic regimes and changes. Discharge analyses at four key gauging stations (Eagle, Stevens Village, Nenana, and Pilot Station) in the Yukon River Basin show that the runoff in the cold season (November to April) is low with small variations, whereas it is high (28 500–177 000 ft3/s; 810–5000 m3/s) with high fluctuations in the warm season (May to October). The Stevens Village Station is in the upper basin and has similar changes with the flow near basin outlet. Flow increases in May (61 074 ft3/s; 1729 m3/s) and September (23 325 ft3/s; 660 m3/s); and decreases in July (35 174 ft3/s; 996 m3/s) and August (6809 ft3/s; 193 m3/s). Discharge in May at the Pilot Station (near the basin outlet) shows a positive trend (177 000 ft3/s; 5010 m3/s). Daily flow analyses show high fluctuation during the warm season and very low flow during the cold season; the 10-year average analyses of daily flow at Pilot Station show a small increase in the peak and its timing shifted to a little earlier date. The annual flow, average of 227 900 ft3/s (6450 m3/s) with high inter-annual fluctuations, has increased by 18 200 ft3/s (or 8%; 520 m3/s) during 1977–2006. From 1977 to 2006, basin air temperature in June has increased by 3.9 °F (2.2 °C) and decreased by 10.5 °F (5.8 °C) in January. A strong and positive correlation exists between air temperature in April and discharge in May, whereas a strong and negative correlation relates August temperature and September discharge. Negative trend during 1977–2006 is observed for precipitation in June (0.6 in.; 15 mm) with a confidence over 93%. Precipitation in August and September has strong and positive correlations with discharge in September and October at basin outlet; the precipitation in other months has weak correlation with the discharge. The mean annual precipitation during 1977–2006 increased by 1.1 in. (or 8%; 28 mm), which contributes to the annual flow increase during the study period. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.