Geografie 2023, 128, 127-152

Trends of hydroclimatic variables and outflow in the Athabasca River basin

Milada MatouškováID, Kateřina FraindováID

Charles University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology, Prague, Czechia

Received September 2022
Accepted January 2023

Our study focuses on assessing trends of hydroclimatic variables and their impact on the runoff regime in the Athabasca River basin in two periods (from the beginning of monitoring until 2011 and 1971−2011). Applied methods included the Mann-Kendall statistical test, linear regression, multiplicative decomposition of data series, the Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration, and the Range of Variability Approach. Temperature records indicated a strong regional warming trend, which influenced decreased snowfall and a declining trend in spring runoff. Our results indicate that between 1971 and 2011 median discharge values decreased by > 20% on the lower and middle courses of the Athabasca River. Although on the upper course the median long-term minimum discharge increased due to the melting of mountain glaciers, on the middle and lower courses a significant decrease occurred. The discharge variability has also increased. All factors and changes are important because they affect the Athabasca-Peace delta’s ecosystem and socioeconomic activities on the lower course.


This research was supported by the Charles University Cooperation research project and from the Specific University Research No. SVV260573. Authors are thankful also for all available data series from the HYDAT archive, Water Survey of Canada Environment Canada.


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