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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

NorEaST: A Tool to Understand the Responses of Fish to Changes in Stream Temperature

Project Leader:
Project Investigators:
Marcus C Waldron
David S Armstrong
James E McKenna Jr
Dana Infante
Kevin Wehrly
Austin Polebitski
Richard Palmer


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 many 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 serve 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. 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, and web services to connect, communicate, and serve data for use in analysis and applications. 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 and 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. These applications included generating stream thermal metrics, analyzing fish species response to stream thermal metrics, and evaluating stream temperature modeling approaches for use by aquatic resource managers.