Hydrological Changes: Historical Analysis, Contemporary Status, and Future Projections


This chapter looks at several aspects of the hydrological regime across Siberia using long-term historical data and model simulation results to provide a better understanding of ongoing changes and future directions. It begins with a survey of the major components of water balance: river flow, precipitation, and evapotranspiration. This is followed by the primary focus on the Siberian river systems with emphasis on annual variability and the anomalously high river discharge in 2007, the seasonality of river flow with increases in winter discharge, and changes in magnitude of minimum river flow and the temporal shifts in maximum river flow. Other components related to the river systems are also explored, including the thermal regime showing a lack of widespread evidence for increasing river temperature while the ice cover over the major rivers is decreasing in terms of both the duration of ice cover and ice thickness. Related hydrological conditions (e.g., groundwater hydrology) demonstrate an increase in both levels and temperatures; however, there is evidence for some local decreases in groundwater level. Additionally, increases in groundwater runoff from the taiga zone are observed. Total thermokarst lake area is changing, depending on the landscape zone. Northern zones of tundra are gaining lake area, while the southern tundra and taiga regions are losing lake area. This chapter concludes with a look at possible future changes in the region’s hydrology. River discharge in the major Siberian watersheds is expected to rise, and this result is consistent across a majority of the global climate models’ projections for the twenty-first century.


Earth Systems Research Center

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Journal Title

Regional Environmental Changes in Siberia and Their Global Consequences



Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Document Type

Book Chapter


© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013