Climatic Change

, Volume 69, Issue 2, pp 367-392

Climate Change Impact on Snow Coverage, Evaporation and River Discharge in the Sub-Arctic Tana Basin, Northern Fennoscandia

  • Rutger DankersAffiliated withDepartment of Physical Geography, Faculty of Geographical Sciences, University of Utrecht Email author 
  • , Ole Bøssing ChristensenAffiliated withDanish Climate Center/Danish Meteorological Institute

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Arctic environments are generally believed to be highly sensitive to human-induced climatic change. In this paper, we explore the impacts on the hydrological system of the sub-arctic Tana Basin in Northernmost Finland and Norway. In contrast with previous studies, attention is not only given to river discharge, but also to the spatial patterns in snow coverage and evapotranspiration. We used a distributed water balance model that was coupled to a regional climate model in order to calculate a scenario of climate change by the end of this century. Three different model experiments were performed, adopting different approaches to using the climate model output in the hydrological model runs. The results were largely consistent, indicating a much shorter snow season and, accordingly, decreased sublimation, an increase in evapotranspiration, and a shift in the annual runoff peak. As the snow-free season is extended, the amount of solar radiation that is received during this period increases significantly. The results also show important local differences in the hydrological response to climate change. For example, in the scenario runs, the snow season was more than 30 days shorter at higher elevations, but in some of the river valleys, this was up to 70 days.