Thermal regimes in a large upland salmon river: a simple model to identify the influence of landscape controls and climate change on maximum temperatures

Markus Hrachowitz, C. Soulsby, C. Imholt, I. A. Malcolm, Doerthe Tetzlaff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Temperature observations at 25 sites in the 2000 km(2) Dee catchment in NE Scotland were used, in conjunction with geographic information system (GIS) analysis, to identify dominant landscape controls on mean monthly maximum stream temperatures. Maximum winter stream temperatures are mainly controlled by elevation, catchment area and hill shading, whereas the maximum temperatures in summer are driven by more complex interactions, which include the influence of riparian forest cover and distance to coast. Multiple linear regression was used to estimate the catchment-wide distribution of mean weekly maximum stream temperatures for the hottest week of the 2-year observation period. The results suggested the streams most sensitive to high temperatures are small upland streams at exposed locations without any forest cover and relatively far inland, while lowland streams with riparian forest cover at locations closer to the coast exhibit a moderated thermal regime. Under current conditions, all streams provide a suitable thermal habitat for both, Atlantic salmon and brown trout. Using two climate change scenarios assuming 2.5 and 4 degrees C air temperature increases, respectively, temperature-sensitive zones of the stream network were identified, which could potentially have an adverse effect on the thermal habitat of Atlantic salmon and brown trout. Analysis showed that the extension of riparian forests into headwater streams has the potential to moderate changes in temperature under climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3374-3391
Number of pages18
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number23
Early online date7 Jul 2010
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2010


  • stream temperature
  • spatial temperature distribution
  • temperature controls
  • climate change
  • estimating stream temperature
  • juvenile atlantic salmon
  • water temperatures
  • air-temperature
  • brown trout
  • hydrological influences
  • riparian woodland
  • regression-model
  • cross-validation
  • heat exchanges

Cite this