River Temperature Forecast Models


Across Canada, a lack of water temperature information for freshwater ecosystems limits the ability of scientists to assess how current temperatures and changes in temperature affect fish. Management of fisheries supported by these ecosystems is uncertain because of this lack of information. Several water temperature models currently exist, but no single model can provide the type of information that is needed to create tools that are needed to assist with adapting to a changing climate. This project aimed to improve water temperature information available for climate change research and fisheries management.

Results: To improve water temperature information, researchers modified existing temperature forecasting models and used them to simulate climate scenarios. Using information about the lower reaches of the Fraser River and reconfiguring the model for the upstream sections of the river, they improved the way downstream temperatures were modelled. They used the models with climate change data to simulate anomalies in surface water temperature across BC. The models were also used to assess trends in water temperature and to forecast the water temperature conditions for major Chinook salmon populations in southern BC rivers (i.e., Thompson, Chilcotin, Horsefly, Quesnel, Chilliwack, and Coldwater rivers).

Researchers developed an assessment tool that provides fisheries managers with scenarios on how often important upper and lower limits for temperature (thresholds) in key fisheries will be exceeded. In the pilot project for the Miramichi River, historical data was used to determine the number of days per year that temperature thresholds are exceeded (minimum temperature greater than 20℃ and maximum temperature greater than 23℃). The tool will help quantify increasing air and water temperatures as well as the number of times temperature thresholds may be exceeded under future climate scenarios. The results of this study will be included in multiple scientific publications.

Program Name

Aquatic Climate Change Adaptation Services Program (ACCASP)


Pacific: Vancouver Island West Coast

Principal Investigator(s)

David Patterson
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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