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Water 2017, 9(9), 667; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9090667

Assessing Thermally Stressful Events in a Rhode Island Coldwater Fish Habitat Using the SWAT Model

1
Department of Geosciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881, USA
2
Department of Natural Resource Sciences, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 23 August 2017 / Accepted: 29 August 2017 / Published: 4 September 2017
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Abstract

It has become increasingly important to recognize historical water quality trends so that the future impacts of climate change may be better understood. Climate studies have suggested that inland stream temperatures and average streamflow will increase over the next century in New England, thereby putting aquatic species sustained by coldwater habitats at risk. In this study we evaluated two different approaches for modeling historical streamflow and stream temperature in a Rhode Island, USA, watershed with the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), using (i) original SWAT and (ii) SWAT plus a hydroclimatological model component that considers both hydrological inputs and air temperature. Based on daily calibration results with six years of measured streamflow and four years of stream temperature data, we examined occurrences of stressful conditions for brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) using the hydroclimatological model. SWAT with the hydroclimatological component improved modestly during calibration (NSE of 0.93, R2 of 0.95) compared to the original SWAT (NSE of 0.83, R2 of 0.93). Between 1980–2009, the number of stressful events, a moment in time where high or low flows occur simultaneously with stream temperatures exceeding 21 °C, increased by 55% and average streamflow increased by 60%. This study supports using the hydroclimatological SWAT component and provides an example method for assessing stressful conditions in southern New England’s coldwater habitats. View Full-Text
Keywords: SWAT model; coldwater fish; stream temperature; hydroclimatological model; water quality; hydrology SWAT model; coldwater fish; stream temperature; hydroclimatological model; water quality; hydrology
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Chambers, B.; Pradhanang, S.M.; Gold, A.J. Assessing Thermally Stressful Events in a Rhode Island Coldwater Fish Habitat Using the SWAT Model. Water 2017, 9, 667.

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