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NEW watershed RESEARCH paper from KBRR and colleagues

August 20, 2014

Below is a message from KBRR Watershed Specialist, Coowe Walker:

I am very pleased to be able to provide you with our newly published paper on the effects of geomorphic setting on headwater stream temperatures. This study was initiated as part of an EPA funded project in 2008 in collaboration with our headwater stream research partners (Baylor University , Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the University of South Florida). This piece of the project was guided by  Prof. Mark Rains, from USF,  and his students Jason Bellino and Mike Callahan.  This paper is  one of series that examine the linkages between our landscapes and streams.  As always, we welcome your thoughts and comments.




Michael K. Callahan, Mark C. Rains, Jason C. Bellino, Coowe M. Walker, Steven J. Baird, Dennis F. Whigham, and Ryan S. King2


ABSTRACT: Headwater streams are the most numerous in terms of both number and length in the conterminous United States and play important roles as spawning and rearing grounds for numerous species of anadromous fish. Stream temperature is a controlling variable for many physical, chemical, and biological processes and plays a critical role in the overall health and integrity of a stream. We investigated the controls on stream temperature in salmon-bearing headwater streams in two common hydrogeologic settings on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska: (1) drainage-ways, which are low-gradient streams that flow through broad valleys; and (2) discharge-slopes, which are high gradient streams that flow through narrow valleys. We hypothesize local geomorphology strongly influences surface-water and groundwater interactions, which control streamflow at the network scale and stream temperatures at the reach scale. The results of this study showed significant differences in stream temperatures between the two hydrogeologic settings. Observed stream temperatures were higher in drainage-way sites than in discharge-slope sites, and showed strong correlations as a continuous function with the calculated topographic metric flow-weighted slope. Additionally, modeling results indicated the potential for groundwater discharge to moderate stream temperature is not equal between the two hydrogeologic settings, with groundwater having a greater moderating effect on stream temperature at the drainage-way sites.


Callahan, Michael K., Mark C. Rains, Jason C. Bellino, Coowe M. Walker, Steven J. Baird, Dennis F. Whigham, and Ryan S. King, 2014. Controls on Temperature in Salmonid-Bearing Headwater Streams in Two Common Hydrogeologic Settings, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 1-15. DOI: 10.1111/jawr.12235

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