An Integrated Assessment of Lake and Stream Thermal Habitat Under Climate Change
Water temperatures are warming in lakes and streams, resulting in the loss of many native fish. Given clear passage, coldwater stream fishes can take refuge upstream when larger streams become too warm. Likewise, many Midwestern lakes “thermally stratify” resulting in warmer waters on top of deeper, cooler waters. Many of these lakes are connected to threatened streams. To date, assessments of the effects of climate change on fish have mostly ignored lakes, and focused instead on streams. Because surface waters represent a network of habitats, an integrated assessment of stream and lake temperatures under climate change is necessary for decision-making. This work informed the preservation of lake/stream linkages, prioritization restoration strategies, and stocking efforts for sport fish. This project employed state-of-the-science methods to model historical and future thermal habitat for nearly ten thousand lakes. These data will be combined with observations of fish, stream connectivity and stream temperature data to predict suitable fish thermal habitat. The results of this project are used by partners and stakeholders to prioritize adaptation and restoration strategies for the region’s freshwater resources. Additionally, these data products have been shared openly in machine-readable formats to spur other innovation and research.
Tools and Products
University of Minnesota CFANS Research: Local adaptation can sustain walleye fisheries in the face of habitat loss May, 2019
NE CSC NEWS: Climate Change and Freshwater Fish Product Wins USGS Communications Excellence Award. January 2018
The Capital Times. Climate change is here: Wisconsin is seeing earlier springs, later falls, less snow and more floods. November 2017.
NCCWSC Snapshot Warmer Waters Could Impact Sport Fishing in Wisconsin October 31, 2017
Living on the Lake. USGS study finds lake temperatures are warming. September 2017.
Yale Climate Connections. Wisconsin's iconic walleyes feeling brunt from warming lakes. July 2017.
Science News "Lakes worldwide feel the heat from climate change" May 13, 2017
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Smith: Walleye decline spotlight on Lac Vieux Desert. March 2017
UW-Madison Center for Limnology. Bass Set to Win, Walleye Lose Under Warming Projections. January 2017.
The Habitat Section of the American Fisheries Society. Changing climate threatens Walleye, benefits Largemouth Bass. December 2016.
The Isthmus. Heat misers: Data shows Madison’s lakes are getting warmer. December 2016.
NE CSC NEWS: "New Interactive Tool Looking at Rising Temps in Midwestern Lakes" September 16, 2016
Pioneer Press. By 2040, less than 4% of Wisconsin lakes might have walleye, study predicts. September 2016
The Hamilton Spectator. Study says climate change bad for walleyes. September 2016.
mprnews.org. Could Wisconsin study solve Mille Lacs walleye decline mystery? September 2016
Environmental Monitor. Walleye Stocks In Wisconsin Lakes Going Down With Warming. September 2016
Wide Open Spaces. Wisconsin Study Says Climate Change is Going to Impact Bass and Walleye Fishing in the Midwest. September 2016
Wisconsin Public Radio. Do Higher Water Temperatures Mean Fewer Walleye In Wisconsin Lakes? September 2016.
WisconsinWatch.org. Gov. Scott Walker’s science cuts may hinder efforts to halt walleye decline. May 2015.
As part of our deliverables to share the tools we are building, we have released an R package for accessing climate data (geoknife) and a tool for sharing data on sciencebase.gov (sbtools).