** Progress in Earth and Planetary Science is the official journal of the Japan Geoscience Union, published in collaboration with its 50 society members.

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    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    Progress in Earth and Planetary Science

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    Atmospheric and hydrospheric sciences

    202403202403

    Influence of snowmelt on increasing Arctic river discharge: numerical evaluation

    Hotaek Park, Youngwook Kim, Kazuyoshi Suzuki, Tetsuya HiyamaHotaek Park, Youngwook Kim, Kazuyoshi Suzuki, Tetsuya Hiyama

    Snowmelt, Arctic river discharge, Climate change, Precipitation, Sensitivity simulation

    Snow is the most important component of the Arctic climatic and hydrological system and is directly vulnerable to climate change. In recent decades, observations have indicated significant decreases in the Arctic snow cover and snowfall rate, whereas water discharge from circumpolar Arctic river basins into the Arctic Ocean has increased. To evaluate the contribution, not well quantified, of snow to the river discharge increase, we conducted sensitivity simulations with surface air temperature and precipitation as climatic treatment variables, combining a land surface model and a distributed discharge model. Variables were treated assuming higher climate variations in the Arctic cold season in 1979–2018. The surface and subsurface runoffs simulated by the land surface model were set as inflows in the discharge model to estimate river discharge. Snowmelt mostly converted to surface runoff, accounting for 73.6% of the anomalous surface runoff increase and inducing the simulated peak discharge in spring and early summer. This relationship was enhanced by the winter precipitation increase. Snow loss induced by higher air temperature contributed to the decrease in the peak and annual discharges, but caused the peak discharge to occur earlier. Additionally, warmer temperature increased the proportion of rainfall in the partitioning of precipitation, causing more subsurface runoff, particularly in autumn and winter. These results provide a first separate evaluation of factors influencing Arctic water discharge, including seasonal hydrographs, and illustrate the influence of climate warming-induced snowfall and rainfall variations on the circumpolar Arctic river discharge.