Data availability for Rivers Challenge
The objective for the River Challenge of the Sea Basin Checkpoint Arctic project is to provide time series of the annual into the Arctic Ocean input of:
- Water volume
- Water temperature
- Total nitrogen and Phosphates
- Salmon and Eel (inwards and outwards)
Here a description is given of the identified data sets that were used to compile this overview of data availability.
The data availability is very different for the requested parameters. Most data is available for the volume of water discharge. For some large Russian rivers time series are quite long, more than 70 years, up to more than 100 years. But many time series are relatively short, a few decades in many cases, and often incomplete. It is worrying that stations have been closed and data are delayed.
The data availability for the other parameters is much worse. Water quality monitoring is expensive, especially at remote sites. Therefore measurements are erratic, time series are short and measurement protocols differ between sites.
Bring and Destouni (2009) have also studied the status of the Arctic monitoring effort. They conclude that especially the water quality monitoring is fragmented and this restricts environmental modelers, policy makers and the public in their ability to integrate accessible data and accurately assess bio- geochemical changes in the Arctic environment. They note that the recent PARTNERS project (now continued as the Arctic-GRO) improves the situation, but large areas remain unmonitored. They show that there is a significant difference between the characteristics of the monitored and unmonitored areas which limits the possibilities to generalize hydrological and hydrochemical impact assessments based on monitoring data. Even if the quality monitoring were at a level comparable to the quantity monitoring, the short time series still poses an significant problem.
Bring, A., & Destouni, G. (2009). Hydrological and hydrochemical observation status in the pan-Arctic drainage basin. Polar Research, 28(3), 327–338.
Photo: National Park Service Alaska