Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Thermal infrared remote sensing of water temperature in riverine landscapes

January 1, 2012

Water temperature in riverine landscapes is an important regional indicator of water quality that is influenced by both ground- and surface-water inputs, and indirectly by land use in the surrounding watershed (Brown and Krygier, 1970; Beschta et al., 1987; Chen et al., 1998; Poole and Berman, 2001).Coldwater fishes such as salmon and trout are sensitive to elevated water temperature; therefore, water temperature must meet management guidelines and quality standards, which aim to create a healthy environment for endangered populations (McCullough et al., 2009). For example, in the USA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established water quality standards to identify specific temperature criteria to protect coldwater fishes (Environmental Protection Agency, 2003). Trout and salmon can survive in cool-water refugia even when temperatures at other measurement locations are at or above the recommended maximums (Ebersole et al., 2001; Baird and Krueger, 2003; High et al., 2006). Spatially extensive measurements of water temperature are necessary to locate these refugia, to identify the location of ground- and surface-water inputs to the river channel, and to identify thermal pollution sources. Regional assessment of water temperature in streams and rivers has been limited by sparse sampling in both space and time. Water temperature has typically been measured using a network of widely distributed instream gages, which record the temporal change of the bulk, or kinetic, temperature of the water (Tk) at specific locations. For example, the State of Washington (USA) recorded water quality conditions at 76 stations within the Puget Lowlands eco region, which contains 12,721 km of streams and rivers (Washington Department of Ecology, 1998). Such gages are sparsely distributed, are typically located only in larger streams and rivers, and give limited information about the spatial distribution of water temperature.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2012
Title Thermal infrared remote sensing of water temperature in riverine landscapes
Authors Rebecca N. Handcock, Christian E. Torgersen, Keith A. Cherkauer, Alan R. Gillespie, Tockner Klement, Russell N. Faux, Jing Tan
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70157172
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center

Related Content