, Volume 68, Issue 3, pp 331-353

Modeling the potential effects of climate change on water temperature downstream of a shallow reservoir, lower madison river, MT

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Abstract

A numerical stream temperature model that accounts for kinematic wave flow routing, and heat exchange fluxes between stream water and the atmosphere, and stream water and the stream bed is developed and calibrated to a data-set from the Lower Madison River, Montana, USA. Future climate scenarios were applied to the model through changes to the atmospheric input data based on air temperature and solar radiation output from four General Circulation Models (GCM) for the region under atmospheric CO2 concentration doubling. The purpose of this study was to quantify potential climate change impacts on water temperature for the Lower Madison River, and to assess possible impacts to aquatic ecosystems. Because water temperature is a critical component of fish habitat, this information could be of use in future planning operations of current reservoirs. We applied air temperature changes to diurnal temperatures, daytime temperatures only, and nighttime temperatures only, to assess the impacts of variable potential warming trends. The results suggest that, given the potential climatic changes, the aquatic ecosystem downstream of Ennis Lake will experience higher water temperatures, possibly leading to increased stress on fish populations.Daytime warming produced the largest increases in downstream water temperature.