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Water 2017, 9(10), 732; doi:10.3390/w9100732

Simulating Climate Change Induced Thermal Stress in Coldwater Fish Habitat Using SWAT Model

Department of Geosciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 31 August 2017 / Accepted: 15 September 2017 / Published: 25 September 2017
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Climate studies have suggested that inland stream temperatures and average streamflows will increase over the next century in New England, thereby putting aquatic species sustained by coldwater habitats at risk. This study uses the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to simulate historical streamflow and stream temperatures within three forested, baseflow-driven watersheds in Rhode Island, USA followed by simulations of future climate scenarios for comparison. Low greenhouse gas emission scenarios are based on the 2007 International Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) B1 scenario and the high emissions are based on the SRES A1fi scenario. The output data are analyzed to identify daily occurrences where brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) are exposed to stressful events, defined herein as any day where Q25 or Q75 flows occur simultaneously with stream temperatures exceeding 21 °C. Results indicate that under both high- and low-emission greenhouse gas scenarios, coldwater fish species such as brook trout will be increasingly exposed to stressful events. The percent chance of stressful event occurrence increased by an average of 6.5% under low-emission scenarios and by 14.2% under high-emission scenarios relative to the historical simulations. View Full-Text
Keywords: SWAT model; coldwater habitat; stream temperature; water quality; hydrology; climate change SWAT model; coldwater habitat; stream temperature; water quality; hydrology; climate change

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Chambers, B.M.; Pradhanang, S.M.; Gold, A.J. Simulating Climate Change Induced Thermal Stress in Coldwater Fish Habitat Using SWAT Model. Water 2017, 9, 732.

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