, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 353-381

Projected global climate change impact on water temperatures in five north central U.S. streams

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Abstract

The effect of projected global climate change due to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 on water temperatures in five streams in Minnesota was estimated using a deterministic heat transport model. The model calculates heat exchange between the atmosphere and the water and is driven by climate parameters and stream hydrologic parameters. The model is most sensitive to air temperature and solar radiation. The model was calibrated against detailed measurements to account for seasonally variable shading and wind sheltering. Using climate projections from the GISS, GFDL and OSU GCMs as input; stream temperature simulations predict a warming of freely flowing river reaches by 2.4 °C to 4.7 °C when atmospheric CO2 doubles. In small shaded streams water temperatures are predicted to rise by an additional 6 °C in summer if trees along stream banks should be lost due to climate change or other human activities (e.g. logging). These projected water temperature changes have significant consequences for survival and growth of fishes. Simulation with the complete heat budget equations were also used to examine simplified water temperature/air temperature correlations.