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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Climate change impacts on lake thermal habitat

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 | 10:30 am
134 Morrill Science Center or via remote connection (see webinar information, above)
Gretchen Hansen and Jordan Read
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources,
USGS Office of Water Information

Inland waters are warming, with consequences for ecosystem functions and fisheries management. Fish populations in some temperate lakes and streams have experienced range shifts, extirpations, and changes in species dominance, while populations in other nearby waters are comparably resilient. Understanding and predicting thermal refugia within individual waterbodies is an important component of climate adaptation for management agencies. To address these issues, our NE CSC-funded project leveraged several data networks for water temperature and fisheries observations, and created new methods for modeling in order to simulate contemporary (1979-2015) and future (2020-2100) thermal habitat for over ten thousand lakes in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. These data allow researchers and managers to better understand heterogeneous responses of lakes and fish communities to climate warming. We will discuss our findings from this project, including lake-specific properties that influence resilience to climate change and help explain among-lake differences in the magnitude and direction of observed and predicted future changes in fish distributions. 


Gretchen Hansen is a fisheries systems ecologist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Her research focuses on pattern and process in aquatic communities and ecosystems. She employs statistical analyses of historical data, observational field studies, simulation modeling, and large-scale experimentation to answer applied science questions in a real-world context.


Jordan Read is the Chief of Data Science at the USGS's Office of Water Information, which develops research modeling and data visualization frameworks and participates in efforts to integrate and centralize disparate datasets. Jordan approaches research questions that involve lake and stream simulations and sensor data analysis, including the challenges of modeling over ten thousand lakes across the US. Jordan received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012 in environmental fluid mechanics.