Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 405259
Title Global river temperatures and sensitivity to atmospheric warming and changes in river flow
Author(s) Vliet, M.T.H. van; Ludwig, F.; Zwolsman, J.J.G.; Weedon, G.P.; Kabat, P.
Source Water Resources Research 47 (2011)2. - ISSN 0043-1397 - 19 p.
Department(s) Earth System Science
Alterra - Centre for Water and Climate
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2011
Keyword(s) water temperature - air-temperature - stream temperatures - climate-change - thermal regime - united-states - new-brunswick - variability - models - canada
Abstract This study investigates the impact of both air temperature and river discharge changes on daily water temperatures for river stations globally. A nonlinear water temperature regression model was adapted to include discharge as a variable in addition to air temperature, and a time lag was incorporated to apply the model on a daily basis. The performance of the model was tested for a selection of study basin stations and 157 river temperature stations globally using historical series of daily river temperature, air temperature, and river discharge for the 1980–1999 period. For the study basin stations and for 87% of the global river stations, the performance of the model improved by including discharge as an input variable. Greatest improvements were found during heat wave and drought (low flow) conditions, when water temperatures are most sensitive to atmospheric influences and can reach critically high values. A sensitivity analysis showed increases in annual mean river temperatures of +1.3 °C, +2.6 °C, and +3.8 °C under air temperature increases of +2 °C, +4 °C, and +6 °C, respectively. Discharge decreases of 20% and 40% exacerbated water temperature increases by +0.3 °C and +0.8 °C on average. For several stations, maximum water temperatures on a daily basis were higher under an air temperature increase of +4 °C combined with a 40% discharge decrease compared to an air temperature increase of +6 °C (without discharge changes). Impacts of river discharge on water temperatures should therefore be incorporated to provide more accurate estimations of river temperatures during historical and future projected dry and warm periods
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