The Arctic HYCOS group
Research on Arctic warming
Árni Snorrason, director of IMO, is currently attending a meeting of the Arctic HYCOS working group in Halifax, Canada. The Arctic HYCOS (Arctic HYdrological Cycle Observing System) is intended to form a part of the World Hydrological Observing System (WHYCOS) organized by the WMO.
In recent years, Arctic nations have consolidated their cooperation in the fields of meteorology and Arctic hydrology, to increase monitoring and research on Arctic warming and into various components of the Arctic Hydrological Cycle.
The Arctic Ocean covers only 1% of the total area of the world´s oceans, but receives 10% of the freshwater runoff from the continents and is a crucial component of the global climate system. The largest freshwater contribution comes from the great Siberian rivers, but substantial input derives from Alaska and Arctic Canada as well. In addition, the world´s second largest ice mass, the Greenland ice sheet, is located in the Arctic region.
The Arctic HYCOS working group is particularly focussing on the maintenance of existing monitoring systems and on the use of data in modelling studies related to Arctic hydrology.
The diagram indicates the contribution from different regions and rivers to mean annual inflow of freshwater to the Arctic Ocean (total: 4270 km3 per year). A significant part of the inflow is unmonitored because no hydrological stations are operated in large areas of the Arctic.
The main objectives of the Arctic HYCOS working group have been developed in parallel with an assessment report prepared by a related collaborative venture, Arctic HYDRA. The report can be downloaded from the Arctic Portal web-site.
Freshwater inflow to the Arctic Ocean – contributions of main rivers in cubic kilometers per year. The total annual inflow (4270 km3) is similar to the total volume of all glaciers in Iceland. (large diagram)