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Arctic River Discharge Growing

November 30, 2021

By Paul Homewood



AMHERST, Mass. — A civil and environmental engineering researcher at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has, for the first time, assimilated satellite information into on-site river measurements and hydrologic models to calculate the past 35 years of river discharge in the entire pan-Arctic region. The research reveals, with unprecedented accuracy, that the acceleration of water pouring into the Arctic Ocean could be three times higher than previously thought.

The publicly available study, published recently in Nature Communications, is the result of three years of intensive work by research assistant professor Dongmei Feng, the first and corresponding author on the paper. The unprecedented research assimilates 9.18 million river discharge estimates made from 155,710 orbital satellite images into hydrologic model simulations of 486,493 Arctic river reaches from 1984-2018. The project and the paper are called RADR (Remotely-sensed Arctic Discharge Reanalysis) and was funded by NASA and National Science Foundation programs for early career researchers.

Figure 2


  The key thing about this study is not that river flows are greater than previously estimated, but that they have increased over the period of the study, 1984-2018:





This is significant because it means the Arctic Ocean is gradually becoming fresher. Exactly the same phenomenon occurred during what was called The Great Salinity Anomaly, GSA, which began in the 1960s. As Dickson & Osterhus described in their study, One Hundred Years in the Norwegian Sea in 2007:



Though other factors were involved in the freshening of the Arctic Ocean, such as the NAO, the GSA marked a dramatic shift in the Arctic climate, putting an end to what is known as the Warming of the North between 1920 and 1960 and bringing a much colder era.

Part of the reason for this is the fact that freshwater freezes at higher temperatures than salty water, leading to an increase in sea ice. The GSA is also known to have slowed down the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC).

HH Lamb also wrote about it, particularly how the GSA was triggered by greater run off from rivers in Canada flowing into the Arctic:


HH Lamb: Climate, History & The Modern World


And a Russian study by Viktor Kuzin shows that 11% of the world’s river water flows into the Arctic, a considerable amount.




A milder Arctic tends to be a wetter one, but a wetter climate leads to freshening of the ocean and a return to colder conditions. In other words, it is cyclical.

All of this reinforces the likelihood that the Arctic will become much colder, with sea ice expanding again in the not too distant future.

  1. Broadlands permalink
    November 30, 2021 4:40 pm

    “The research reveals, with unprecedented accuracy, that the acceleration of water pouring into the Arctic Ocean could be three times higher than previously thought.”

    Well, we can certainly put a stop to all that by lowering our CO2 emissions ASAP?

    • Mack permalink
      November 30, 2021 6:12 pm

      Or, “The research (doesn’t) reveal, with unprecedented accuracy, that the acceleration of water pouring into the Arctic Ocean” is not unprecedented and happened most recently at a similar rate when CO2 emissions were much lower and the high priests of climate alarmism were still running around in their nappies!

  2. Pancho Plail permalink
    November 30, 2021 7:02 pm

    Whenever I see “reanalysis” mentioned, it makes me wonder what inconvenient fact they are trying to disprove.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      December 1, 2021 11:25 am

      Whenever I see the word ‘model’ I stop reading to save wasting my time.

  3. November 30, 2021 7:31 pm

    H’mm, well the uncertainty on the discharge looks to be +/- 10%, and they are reporting an increase of 0.22% per year over 35 years? Finding small signals in noisy data is not easy.

    Presumably, if it’s a real phenonenon, it will be accompanied by measurable decrease in salinity.

  4. Phoenix44 permalink
    December 1, 2021 11:48 am

    I compared actual data with a model that assumes it will be less and it was less!

    This stuff is so tedious.

    And it’s always worse than we thought, which is strange for Settled Science

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