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Stream Temperature Inventory and Mapper

Climate change is expected to alter stream temperature and flow regimes over the coming decades, and in turn influence distributions of aquatic species in those freshwater ecosystems. To better anticipate these changes, there is a need to compile both short- and long-term stream temperature data for managers to gain an understanding of baseline conditions, historic trends, and future projections. The NorEaST web portal was developed to meet this need, serving as a coordinated, multi-agency regional framework to map and store continuous stream temperature locations and data for New England, Mid Atlantic, and Great Lakes States.

Go to the Product(s)

NorEaST consists of:

  • A mapper - where the public can view locations and metadata for current and historic stream temperature monitoring sites
  • A database - where data stewards can store and manage their data
  • Web services - to connect, communicate, and serve data for use in analysis and applications

Additional Resources

This project is funded by the Northeast Climate Science Center, which maintains separate project pages for each phase of the project, based on the fiscal year cycle. The 2012-funded project is A Stream Temperature Inventory Network and Decision Support Metadata Mapper - Evaluating the Resources to Understanding Climate Change Effects on Streams in New England and the Great Lakes States. The 2013-funded project is NorEaST – Stream Temperature Web Portal Demonstration and Application.

Technical description

Climate change is expected to alter stream temperature and flow regimes over the coming decades, and in turn influence distributions of aquatic species in those freshwater ecosystems. To better anticipate these changes, there is a need to compile both short- and long-term stream temperature data for managers to gain an understanding of baseline conditions, historic trends, and future projections. Unfortunately, many agencies lack sufficient resources to compile, conduct quality assurance and control, and make accessible stream temperature data collected through routine monitoring.  Yet, pooled data from multiple sources, even if temporally and spatially inconsistent, can have great value both in the realm of stream temperature and aquatic response. The NorEaST web portal was developed to meet this need, serving as a coordinated, multi-agency regional framework to map and store continuous stream temperature locations and data for New England, Mid Atlantic, and Great Lakes States.

Currently, stream temperature monitoring locations and metadata can be viewed for more than 10,000 monitoring locations across 30 states, contributed by 40 different organizations. Organizations collecting continuous stream temperature data can request to become NorEaST users, data stewards can use the web portal to store and manage their organization’s continuous stream temperature data.

To demonstrate the utility of large scale, consistent stream temperature data for use in regional analyses and decision-making, stream temperature data collected as part of the NorEaST project were used in three different targeted applications including:

  • Generating stream thermal metrics
  • Analyzing fish species response to stream thermal metrics
  • Evaluating stream temperature modeling approaches for use by aquatic resource managers

Projected changes in climate that may vary regionally and seasonally suggest that stream temperature data from all seasons may prove valuable to management agencies in adapting to climate changes, yet the vast majority of stream water temperature data are collected during the summer season. Results of fish species response to thermal metrics indicate that high summer water temperatures had the most significant associations with fish species across ecoregions.  While trends were variable, fall magnitude metrics were associated with many fish species, and we also saw many fish species showing significant associations with temperature variability, expressed by either monthly or seasonal ranges or coefficients of variation. Given the finding of association between thermal metrics and fish species, additional attention is needed to consider seasons other than summer, as well as year-round monitoring and to consider other thermal characteristics besides magnitude.

Overall, the NorEaST portal provides a standardized regional framework that will help coordinate and leverage monitoring efforts and data across agencies, help improve data quality, prevent data loss, and provide opportunities for regional analyses.

Case Studies and News Stories

Check Out the New Northeast Stream Temperature Inventory & Decision Support Tool - Northeast Climate Science Center Blog

Project Contact(s):

Jana Stewart, Geographer, U.S.G.S. Wisconsin Water Science Center

Michelle Staudinger, Northeast Climate Science Center staff contact

LCC Staff Contact(s):

N/A

Stream Temperature Inventory and Mapper
Product Type(s):
Foundation Information
Maps, Spatial Datasets, and Databases
Assessments and Research Results
Reports
Decision Support Tools
Interactive tools and models
Resource Type: Fish
Conservation Targets: Freshwater aquatic
Conservation Framework: Biological Planning
Threats/Stressors: Climate change impacts
Conservation Action: Site/area protection, Site/area management, Species management

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