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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
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Research article
14 Jun 2016
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper was accepted for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Climate and basin drivers of seasonal river water temperature dynamics
C. L. R. Laizé1,2, C. Bruna Meredith2,a, M. Dunbar1,b, and D. M. Hannah2 1Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UK
2School of Geography, Earth, & Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK
anow at: Scottish Environment Protection Agency, UK
bnow at: Environmental Agency, UK
Abstract. Stream water temperature is a key control of many river processes (e.g. ecology, biogeochemistry, hydraulics) and services (e.g. power plant cooling, recreational use). Consequently, the effect of climate change and variability on stream temperature is a major scientific and practical concern. This paper aimed (1) to improve the understanding of large-scale spatial and temporal variability in climate–water temperature associations, and (2) to assess explicitly the influence of basin properties as modifiers of these relationships. A dataset was assembled including six distinct modelled climatic variables (air temperature, downward shortwave and longwave radiation, wind speed, specific humidity, and precipitation) and observed stream temperatures for the period 1984–2007 at 35 sites located on 21 rivers within 16 basins (Great Britain geographical extent); the study focused on broad spatio-temporal patterns hence was based on three-month averaged data (i.e. seasonal). A wide range of basin properties was derived. Five models were fitted (all seasons, winter, spring, summer, and autumn). Both site and national spatial scales were investigated at once by using multi-level modelling with linear multiple regressions. Model selection used Multi-Model Inference, which provides more robust models, based on sets of good models, rather than a single best model. Broad climate-water temperature associations common to all sites were obtained from the analysis of the fixed coefficients, while site-specific responses, i.e. random coefficients, were assessed against basin properties with ANOVA. All six climate predictors investigated play a role as a control of water temperature. Air temperature and shortwave radiation are important for all models/seasons, while the other predictors are important for some models/seasons only. The form and strength of the climate-stream temperature association vary depending on season and on water temperature. The dominating climate drivers and physical processes may change across seasons, and across the stream temperature range. The role of basin permeability, size, and elevation as modifiers of the climate-water temperature associations was confirmed; permeability has the primary influence, followed by size and elevation. Smaller, upland, and/or impermeable basins are the most influenced by atmospheric heat exchanges, while larger, lowland and permeable basins are least influenced. The study showed the importance of accounting properly for the spatial and temporal variability of climate-stream temperature associations and their modification by basin properties.

Citation: Laizé, C. L. R., Meredith, C. B., Dunbar, M., and Hannah, D. M.: Climate and basin drivers of seasonal river water temperature dynamics, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-171, in review, 2016.
C. L. R. Laizé et al.
Interactive discussionStatus: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version      Supplement - Supplement
RC1: 'reviewer comments', Anonymous Referee #1, 22 Jun 2016 Printer-friendly Version 
AC1: 'Response to Reviewer#1's comments', Cedric Laize, 09 Dec 2016 Printer-friendly Version 
RC2: 'Review comments', Anonymous Referee #2, 12 Nov 2016 Printer-friendly Version 
AC2: 'Response to Reviewer#2's comments', Cedric Laize, 09 Dec 2016 Printer-friendly Version 
C. L. R. Laizé et al.

Data sets

Water temperatures for the period 1984 to 2007 at 35 sites on 21 UK rivers
Laizé, C. L. R. and Bruna Meredith, C.
C. L. R. Laizé et al.


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Short summary
Stream temperature controls many river processes, making it vital to know how climate affect it. Climate and stream temperatures at 35 British sites and associated basin properties were used to model climate–water temperature associations and to assess how they are influenced by basins. Associations vary with season and water temperature range. Basin permeability, size and elevation have the main influence: smaller, upland or impermeable basins are the most sensitive to climate.
Stream temperature controls many river processes, making it vital to know how climate affect it....