Skip to main content
The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Bringing People, Data, and Models Together – Addressing Impacts of Climate Change on Stream Temperature


Austin Polebitski

Publication Type:
Year of Publication:
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering \textendash University of Wisconsin, Platteville


This study set out to answer the question: "What data and modeling frameworks are needed to provide scientists reliable, climate-informed, water temperature estimates for freshwater ecosystems that can assist watershed management decision making?" To accomplish this, the study gathered existing stream temperature data, identified data gaps, deployed stream temperature monitoring devices, and developed and tested a stream temperature model that could be regionalized across the Northeast Climate Science Center domain. Polebitski and colleagues partnered with another NE CSC funded project team, NorEaST-Stream Temperature Web Portal Demonstration and Application, led by Jana Stewart (USGS Wisconsin Water Science Center), to collect data from over 10000 locations across 30 states and contributed by 40 different organizations. This collection effort aided in identifying data gaps where additional stream temperature would prove useful; through connections with State, Federal, Academic, and NGO partners, this project deployed over 300 additional stream temperature data loggers. Using the data compiled from the collection effort a statistical stream temperature model was developed, calibrated, and validated over portions of the NECSC region. This model is one alternative for estimating stream temperatures at locations that are not actively monitored and can be useful in estimating the impacts of climate change on individual streams.