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Impacts of Climate Change on Stream Temperature

Bringing People, Data, and Models Together – Addressing Impacts of Climate Change on Stream Temperature

This study gathered existing stream temperature data, identified data gaps, deployed temperature monitoring to locations lacking data, and compared state-of-the-art stream temperature models across the Northeast domain.

Stream temperature has a direct and indirect effect on many biological, physical, and chemical processes in the freshwater environment. For example, metabolic rates of most stream organisms are controlled directly by temperature.  Feeding and breeding behaviors are altered when temperature changes, resulting in divergent preferences for habitat for cool-water and warm-water species. Conservation and management decisions regarding aquatic systems face new challenges as future temperatures are projected to rise markedly and flow timing is projected to shift for many watersheds in the Northeast under climate change impacts.

A critical and timely research question is: “What data and modeling frameworks are needed to provide scientists reliable, climate-informed, water temperature estimates for freshwater ecosystems that can assist watershed management decision making?” Our project will answer this through two primary activities: 1) gathering and compiling existing stream temperature data within the DOI-Northeast region and subsequent deployment of data loggers to areas where additional data are needed, and 2) an intercomparison of state-of-the-art statistical and deterministic stream temperature models to evaluate their ability to replicate point stream temperature measurements and model scalability to non-gaged sites with the Northeast region.

This project is funded by the Northeast Climate Science Center, which maintains a project page on their website.

This project is complete. The project team joined with the team for the related project "A stream temperature inventory mapper and data portal for evaluating climate change effects on New England, Mid Atlantic and Great Lakes states streams" to coordinate activities and share data. Together, the teams are collecting stream data from across the Northeast-Midwest region.

Associated with this project are 3 stream temperature science and modeling meetings, at which researchers from the Northeast Climate Science Center geography presented their research and worked on a strategy for ensuring compatibility of results across their respective project areas.

Presentations were given at the Stream Temperature Data and Modeling Meeting (May 2012), Integrating Stream Science Meeting (March 2013), and Stream Temperature Data and Modeling meeting (May 2014), all sponsored by the North Atlantic LCC.

NALCC funding: $0

Northeast Climate Science Center funding: $114,000