Variation in river water temperatures in an upland stream over a 30-year period

S J Langan, L Johnston, M J Donaghy, A F Youngson, D W Hay, C Soulsby

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Stream water temperature data from the Girnock burn, a 30-km(2) catchment in Scotland were examined for systematic Variation across 30 years of record (1968-1997). The data suggest that there has been no change in mean annual temperature with time, but at a seasonal level there is some indication of an increase in mean daily maximum temperatures during the winter (December to February) and spring (March to May) seasons. For the spring season, there is also evidence that mean temperature has increased. There are no apparent or obvious changes in stream flow to account for this. The strong relationship between air and stream temperatures (r(2) = 0.96) implies that changes in the stream are the result of changes in the climate. It is possible that this may occur as a result of the effect of increasing air temperatures which may have also reduced the influence of snow and snowmelt on the catchment during the winter and spring seasons. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-207
Number of pages13
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • stream water temperature
  • seasonality
  • trend
  • climate-change

Cite this

Langan, S. J., Johnston, L., Donaghy, M. J., Youngson, A. F., Hay, D. W., & Soulsby, C. (2001). Variation in river water temperatures in an upland stream over a 30-year period. Science of the Total Environment, 265, 195-207.