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Stream temperature modeling and monitoring

January, 2010

Thermal regimes are important to aquatic ecosystems because they strongly dictate species distributions, productivity, and abundance. Inexpensive digital temperature loggers, geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing technologies, and new spatial analyses are facilitating the development of temperature models and monitoring networks applicable at broad spatial scales.

This stream temperature modeling and monitoring web site provides resources to help those in the western United States organize temperature monitoring efforts, describes techniques for measuring stream temperatures, and describes several statistical models for predicting stream temperatures and thermally suitable fish habitats from temperature data. The site also has useful links to other stream temperature resources such as publications, videos, and presentations on topics relating to thermal regimes in streams. By accurately portraying and making available a comprehensive and updated set of stream temperature sites monitored by several agencies, we hope to facilitate data sharing and avoid redundancies as new monitoring sites are added to the regional network. If you are interested in obtaining temperature data or have sites to add to stream temperature monitoring maps, please contact Sherry Wollrab.

Stream Temperature Models

  • NorWeST is a comprehensive database of stream temperatures for all streams across the Northwest. Temperature data is being used with spatial statistical stream network models to develop an accurate and consistent set of future climate scenarios.
  • Spatial Statistical Models use thermograph data in conjunction with predictor variables (climatic, vegetation, geomorphic) to predict stream temperature. These models are more accurate than non-spatial models and offer far greater predictive ability (R2 ~ 0.90).
  • SSN & STARS is a set of tools used to accuarately model stream networks based on spatial statistical stream models.
  • Multiple Regression Models use thermograph data and geomorphic predictor variables to predict stream temperature metrics with moderate accuracy (R2 ~ 0.65)
  • Air Temperature Models were developed to predict air temperatures based on elevation, and geographic latitude and longitude with good success (R2 ~ 0.89).

Other Deliverables

  • Protocols and other resources for monitoring air/stream temperature.
  • Interactive maps of year-round stream temperature monitoring sites.
  • Science briefings about stream temperature research and models.
  • Climate-aquatics blog with posts highlight peer-reviewed research and science tools associated with aquatic ecosystems and climate change.
  • Bibliography of peer-reviewed publications, presentations, and white papers.


Holden, Zachary A. ; Klene, Anna E. ; Keefe, Robert F. ; Moisen, Gretchen , 2013
Dunham, Jason ; Chandler, Gwynne L. ; Rieman, Bruce ; Martin, Don , 2005

Project Contact: 

Sherry P. Wollrab - RMRS Boise
Jason B. Dunham - USGS