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Bringing people, data, and models together - addressing impacts of climate change on stream temperature

Few previous studies have focused on how climate change may impact headwater systems, despite the importance of these areas for aquatic refugia. The lack of these studies has resulted in the majority of climate impact assessments focusing on conservation of ecological systems at broad levels, and has not focused on turning results into useful and actionable information for managers on the ground. 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?” This research 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.

The expected results for this project are: 1) a web-accessible database containing stream temperature data from across the Northeast domain, 2) identification of critical areas in need of long term monitoring efforts, and 3) deployment of temperature loggers to enhance existing long term monitoring network and 4) a comprehensive model intercomparison, focusing on model accuracy, flexibility, and parsimony. The team will compare the ability of weekly/monthly stream temperature models to estimate stream temperatures across the domain, and examine the ability of hourly/daily models to predict in a select number of case study basins. A comparison between monthly and daily models will provide an assessment as to whether temporal resolution impacts stream temperature estimates.

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