Pan-Arctic River Discharge Data

Background and Summary:

The Pan-Arctic Project is a multi-disciplinary NSF-funded project carried out at the following

Water Systems Analysis Group, University of New Hampshire, USA
Marine Biological Lab, USA
State Hydrological Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia
University of Delaware, USA
University of Colorado, USA

The goals of the project are to estimate the contemporary water and constituent balances for the pan-Arctic drainage system. The pan-Arctic drainage system encompasses all terrestrial land area draining into the Arctic Ocean as well as the land mass draining into Hudson Bay, James Bay in Canada and the northern Bering Sea which includes the Yukon River in Alaska and the Anadyr River in Russia. This represents a land area of approximately 21 million km2.

The first half of the project has been devoted to the hydrological cycle. A primary focus of that has been to develop a river discharge database for the entire Pan-Arctic region. Our concentration has been on coarse scale modeling with a grid cell resolution of 30' x 30' (latitude x longitude).  As result we were mainly interested in drainage basins greater than 15,000 km2. However, for Canada and Russia we collected all available river gauges irrespective of size. For the purposes of continental and global scale modeling, it is the gauges for large drainage areas which will be of greatest interest in the regional, continental and global-scale scientific community.


Data Sources:


USGS - Alaska:

Alaska data were supplied by David F Meyer (dfmeyer@usgs.gov) a USGS hydrologist in Anchorage, AK. Prior to 1965, the data were published in published in USGS Water Supply Papers Wells and Love [1957], Hendricks [1964] and U.S. Geological Survey [1971]. Since 1965, the data have been published annually [U.S. Geological Survey, 1967-1996].

USGS - Midwest:

Data obtained from Hydro-Climatic Data network (HCDN) Slack et al. [1993] - http://wwwrvares.er.usgs.gov:80/hcdn_cdrom/region09.html

Only gauges greater than 15,000 km2 were collected.


HYDAT - Environment Canada CD-ROM from EarthInfo Inc. Version 4.93 Surface Water and Sediment Data, Atmosphere Environment Service

Monthly Data for all pan-Arctic stations were extracted.

Russia and other Eurasian Countries:

Data supplied by

Igor Shiklomanov (ishiklom@sovam.com)
The State Hydrological Institute
23, Second Line, V.O.
St. Petersburg, 199053

Phone: (812) 213-3517
Fax: (812) 213-1028

All available gauges for the Russian pan-Arctic region were collected. Gauges for other Eurasian countries were collected for gauges greater than 1000 km2.

Processing Details:


USGS data was pulled off the web (HCDN) or received by ftp from USGS offices in Alaska (AK data) in the USGS format. Data were extracted from these files and coverted to metric units consistent with the other data sets.

Gauges for drainage basins outside of the Pan-Arctic region (such as the southern coast of Alaska) were removed.


Data for all gauges pulled off the CD-ROM.

All US gauges and non-Pan-Arctic gauges were removed.

Russia and other Eurasian Countries:

The original data archive was originally collected by the Department for River Runoff and Water Management Problems in the State Hydrological Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia. This covered the period up to 1985 although there were a large number of missing values. As part of Pan-Arctic project, the State Hydrological Institute (SHI) updated the river discharge time series to 1990 and filled in many of the missing values.

The data from other Eurasian countries, Finland, Iceland, Mongolia and Norway, were supplied by the SHI. These data were collected from the Global Water and Water Use Archive developed by the Laboratory of Water Resources and Water Balance at SHI.

Final Assembly:

All data were combined in a common, uniform data base using Microsoft Access. Data were stored as three tables:

Site Attributes
Discharge - Horizontal Format
Discharge - Vertical Format
The Site Attribute table included information on the gauge name, the original Code number assigned by the source agency, drainage area, latitude and longitude, and the source of the data.  Except for minor spelling adjustments, the spelling of the Russian station names were left as
received from SHI.

A unique identification number (PointID) was assigned to each gauge to prevent potential overlap in the code numbers. Due to the coding used by the three countries, there was no overlap since Russia uses a 4-5 digit numeric code, the USGS uses an 8 or 15 digit numeric code and the Canadians use a 7 digit alpha-numeric code. The unique identification numbers have been retained as some software requires a numeric field for indexing. Therefore both PointID and Code are unique identifiers for the gauges.

Data Summary:

The total number of gauges given in R-ArcticNET v2.0 is 3713. The following table shows a list of the number of gauges divided by data source.


The total number of gauges by hydrological zone are given in the following table.

Hydrological Zone
Anadyr Kolyma
North European Russia
Northwest Hudson Bay
South and East Hudson Bay



Richard Lammers, Water Systems Analysis Group, University of New Hampshire (UNH), constructed the initial database, made data modifications and updates. Alexander Shiklomanov, Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St. Petersburg and UNH, assisted in the initial data processing and later took control of the database. He was responsible for adding new stations, updating existing gauges and correcting errors. This was an ongoing process as more Russian data became availble in digital form. Control was returned to Richard Lammers for final data processing, generation of hydrographs and preparation of the WWWeb pages and CD-ROM.

HTML coding and CD-ROM preparation were developed by Allan Wright, Research Computing Center, UNH. Graphics and database coding for the web pages and CD-ROM were developed by Stanley Glidden, Water Systems Analysis Group, UNH.

Digitizing of the Russian discharge data at SHI was conducted by Elena Zaitseva and Tanya Molchanova

Igor Shiklomanov, State Hydrological Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia, supplied all Eurasian data for this project.

Robert Morris, Environment Canada, was instrumental in securing permissions to allow the Canadian data to be placed on the WWWeb and CD-ROM.

Funding Agencies:

National Science Foundation - Office of Polar Programs
NASA - Earth Observing System
Department of Energy



Hendricks, E.L., 1964, Compilation of records of surface waters of Alaska, October 1950 to September 1960: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 1740, 86 p.

Slack, J.R., Alan M. Lumb, and Jurate Maciunas Landwehr, 1993, HCDN: Streamflow Data Set, 1874 - 1988, USGS Water-Resources Investigations Report 93-4076.

U.S. Geological Survey, 1971, Surface water supply of the United States 1961-65, Part 15. Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 1936, 342 p.

U.S. Geological Survey, 1967-1996, Water resources data for Alaska, water years 1966-1995: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Data Report AK 66-1 to AK 95-1 (published annually).

Wells, J.V.B., and Love, S.K., 1957, Compilation of records of surface waters of Alaska through September 1950: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 1372, 262 p.

U.S. Geological Survey, 1967-1996, Water resources data for Alaska, water years 1966-1995: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Data Report AK 66-1 to AK 95-1 (published annually).

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