Arctic River Discharge and Temperature (ARDAT) data set

Last update: 28 July 2014


Release notification (Change log): ARDAT version 1.01 (July 2014) is now available. Check back at this site for periodic updates or email us to be placed on the notification list for future improvements.

We have created a climatological data set of river discharge and discharge temperature using a polar stereographic projection with 1/6° grid spacing over the Arctic region. At present we only include rivers defined to be in the pan-Arctic watershed by Holmes et al., 2013.

Locations of river discharge and discharge temperatures in ARDAT. (click to enlarge)

Use and copyright: This data set is freely available and distributable but may not be repackaged for commercial purposes. This is a research-grade product in development and we expect that there are regions that do not well reflect actual river discharge and/or discharge temperature.

River discharge: Observations for Eurasian river discharge were taken from ArcticRIMS, from R-ArcticNET v4.0 for Canadian rivers, and from USGS National Water Information System for Alaskan rivers. Discharge data for the Eurasian rivers commences as early as the beginning of the 1900s, with observations for most rivers starting in the mid-1930s. Observations for the Mackenzie River started in 1972, and Alaskan rivers were gauged since the late 1970s (with the exception of the Kuskokwim - 1951 - and the Colville - 2002).

Discharge temperature: Discharge temperatures for Eurasian rivers were obtained from Lammers et al. (2007)'s ART-Russia data set. Data is available from 20 gauges in 17 drainage basins, over a period from the mid-1930s to 2003. Data from the Arctic Great Rivers Observatory project supplemented data for the largest Eurasian rivers, and provided data for the Mackenzie River from summer 2003 until the end of 2011. USGS NWIS provided discharge temperature data for the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers.

Grid details: The data is gridded to a 1/6° grid (nominally ~18km longitude) on a polar stereographic projection. Latitude/longitude of the grid are included in the data set as two 420 x 384 arrays.

  • long_min: 0.12 °E; long_max: 359.88 °E
  • lat_min: 38.79 °N; lat_max: 89.89 °N

Download the data set: We ask that you provide details of your institution and your contact details on the registration page in order for us to keep track of who uses the ARDAT data set, and for what purposes. This helps us with future funding proposals. After registration, you will be forwarded to a page with links to download the data either as a MatLab *.mat file, or as a series of binary files.

Feedback: We would like to hear about uses that you apply this data set to. This information will help secure funding for further improvements. Feedback can include both successes and identified problems, and also suggestions of other discharge or temperature data sets that could be included.

Acknowledgements: We would like to acknowledge the assistance of Jim McClelland in supplying data from AGRO, along with Peter Winsor, Seth Danielson (both UAF SFOS) and Eddy Carmack (DFO Canada) for valuable advice and assistance. We would also like to thank all those that provided feedback and comments at various presentations, conferences and workshops. This work was supported in part by an NPRB Graduate Student Research Award, and a UAF Center for Global Change Student Research Grant with funds from the Cooperative Institute for Alaska Research.


  • ARDAT: Whitefield, J., Winsor, P., McClelland, J., Menemenlis, D. A new river discharge and river temperature climatology data set for the pan-Arctic region. Manuscript submitted to Ocean Modelling.
  • R-ArcticNET: Lammers, R.B., Shiklomanov, A.I., Vörösmarty, C.J., Fekete, B.M., Peterson, B.J., 2001. Assessment of contemporary Arctic river runoff based on observational discharge records. J. Geophys. Res., 106(D4), 3321-3334, doi:10.1029/2000JD900444.
  • ART-Russia: Lammers, R.B., Pundsack, J.W., Shiklomanov, A.I., 2007. Variability in river temperature, discharge, and energy flux from the Russian pan-Arctic landmass. J. Geophys. Res. - Biogeosciences, 112, G04S59, doi:10.1029/2006JG000370.
  • AGRO: McClelland, J.W., Dery, S.J., Peterson, B.J., Holmes, R.M., Wood, E.F., 2006. A pan-arctic evaluation of changes in river discharge during the latter half of the 20th century. Geophysical Research Letters 33, L06715, doi:06710.01029/02006GL025753.

Example use of ARDAT in the MITgcm/ECCO2 model showing SST (left) and SSS (right). Major drainage basins are marked based on Holmes et al. (2013)

ARDAT contact information: Jonathan Whitefield