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.
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: