HYDROLOGY

Going with Less of the Flow

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Science  01 Feb 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5556, pp. 769
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5556.769b

Long-term records of river flow are essential, for example, to assess whether human activities are affecting flood frequency or severity or for allocating water. Freshwater input into the oceans also has important implications for assessing climate change and for coastal ecosystems. Stream-gauge data in fact indicate that the flow of streams and rivers globally has declined worldwide during the past several decades. However, within the United States alone, the number of gauging stations has declined by nearly 14% since the 1960s, which may make it difficult to assess the larger impacts of changes in river flow. Shiklomanov et al. focus on the implications of monitoring drainage into the Arctic Ocean, where large numbers of gauges have been recently closed in Alaska, Ontario, and the former Soviet Union. Although several gauges providing long-term records are still operational, the authors conclude that the closures pose a threat to the understanding of Arctic and global environmental change. — BH

Eos83, 13 (2002).

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