New Guide for Monitoring Stream Temperature

Release Date:

A new USGS publication: Monitoring Stream Temperatures- A Guide for Non-Specialists. This guide was developed to address the need for a protocol intended for non-specialists (non-aquatic) staff.

rocky stream through green grass and trees

Stream Water in Central New York

(Public domain.)

Jason Dunham, a supervisory research ecologist with the USGS, whose research has been supported by NCASC and the Northwest CASC, is co-author on a new USGS publication: Monitoring Stream Temperatures- A Guide for Non-Specialists. This guide was developed to address the need for a protocol intended for non-specialists (non-aquatic) staff. Measuring stream temperature can help identify locations where restoration actions are needed, provide insight about how and why temperatures change over time, and help anticipate the consequences of these changes for water quality and species distributions.

Water temperature influences most physical and biological processes in streams and, in addition to streamflow, is a major driver of ecosystem processes. Increasingly, changing precipitation patterns, decreasing snow cover and glaciers, and warming air temperatures, among other factors, have led to concerns about warming temperatures in streams. Measuring water temperature therefore can be an important part of data collection in a range of fields and helps us understand changes that are occurring. This new guide helps people who don’t have experience monitoring stream temperature collect this type of data.

Several protocols exist for collecting stream temperature data, but these are frequently written for specialists. This guide targets non-specialist by providing specific step-by-step procedures on (1) how to launch data loggers, (2) check the factory calibration of data loggers prior to field use, (3) how to install data loggers in streams for year-round monitoring, (4) how to download and retrieve data loggers from the field, and (5) how to input project data into organizational databases. After reading this report, any person should be able to install a stream temperature data logger and remotely record temperatures.