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This paper looks at the response of river ice to recent warming in the Arctic at six major downstream gauges on large Russian rivers flowing to the Arctic Ocean. For the Severnaya Dvina, Ob, Yenisey, Lena, Yana and Kolyma we determine how river ice has changed in recent years and we try to understand the underlying causes of those changes. Long-term variability and trends in beginning and ending dates of ice events, duration of ice conditions, and maximum ice thickness were analyzed over 1955–2012. Significant changes in timing of ice events and a decrease in ice thickness were found for the five Siberian rivers. Duration of ice conditions decreased from 7 days for the Severnaya Dvina, Lena and Yenisey to almost 20 days for the Ob at Salekhard. The change in timing of ice events is consistent with changes in regional air temperature, which has significantly increased at each of these river gauges, except Lena-Kusur. The primary cause of the considerable increase in maximum ice thickness was not identified. Variation of mean winter air temperature and river discharge do not correlate well with maximum ice thickness and it is assumed the influence of specific local conditions can play a more important role in ice formation at these locations. Understanding this interrelationship across the Eurasian pan-Arctic using more comprehensive data archives for river ice and discharge is therefore needed.


Earth Systems Research Center; New Hampshire EPSCoR

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Environmental Research Letters


Institute of Physics (IOP)

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c 2014 IOP Publishing Ltd.


This is an article published by Institute of Physics (IOP) in Environmental Research Letters in 2014, available online: