Decreasing river discharge in northern Canada



[1] Freshwater discharge to high-latitude oceans in 64 Canadian rivers is investigated. The mean annual discharge rate attains 1252 km3 yr−1 for an area of 5.6 × 106 km2, equating to a sink of 225 mm yr−1 in the surface water budget of northern Canada (excluding the Arctic Archipelago where insufficient data exist). Application of the Mann-Kendall test to the data reveals a 10% decrease (−125 km3 yr−1 or −22 mm yr−1) in the total annual river discharge to the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans from 1964 to 2003. This trend in river runoff is consistent with a 21 mm yr−1 decline in observed precipitation over northern Canada between 1964 and 2000. We find evidence of statistically-significant links between the Arctic Oscillation, El Niño/Southern Oscillation, and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation to the total annual freshwater discharge in northern Canada's rivers at interannual-to-decadal timescales.