Watershed Research and Restoration
Area-wide Water Temperature Monitoring
The climate is changing rapidly in the North. Over the next 50 years, Southeast Alaska can expect to see an increase in mean annual air temperature of 2 to 4 °C, as well as drier summers and wetter autumns (Schoen et al. 2017), and it is highly likely that there will be widespread and rapid changes occurring in the local aquatic environment. The region is heavily glaciated, and we expect to see significant changes in both glacial runoff and precipitation patterns, which will greatly impact aquatic habitat. The generalized effects of water temperature and chemistry on aquatic life, especially salmon, are well studied and well understood. What are not well documented are the specific local processes that are occurring on the landscape and within the habitat, especially over a time scale of years and decades.
This water temperature project will attempt to answer the following questions (after Mauger et al. 2017), specifically for the Chilkat and Chilkoot watersheds.
How do temperature regimes vary between locations and years? Identify trends.
What are the causes of the variation and trends?
What are the implications for aquatic life, especially salmon?
Are some waters and habitats more or less resistant to the effects of climate change or human development? And if so, why?
We follow a methodology developed by Sue Mauger and her colleagues in the Cook Inlet region (Mauger et al. 2017). We will monitor 15 sites throughout the Chilkat and Chilkoot valleys, Sawmill Creek near the Haines town site, and Mud Bay Creek south of Haines on the Chilkat Peninsula. At each study site, we deploy three HOBO Water Temp Pro v2 data loggers, two submerged in the water and one suspended in the air. Field loggers are checked and calibrated against NIST-certified loggers semi-annually. During site visits the data is field-downloaded to a portable shuttle, or the loggers are swapped out and the data downloaded back at the office. Basic water quality parameters are also recorded using a YSI Pro-DSS multi-parameter instrument. Temperature loggers record continuously at 30-minute intervals. All data is shared via the Alaska Online Aquatic Temperature Site (AKOATS) maintained by the University of Alaska.
TWC is working in collaboration with a research team that includes scientists at the US Forest Service, the University of Alaska, and the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition (SAWC). This team is developing a model that will explore the potential effects of climate change on salmon production throughout the region. The model will rely heavily on temperature data collected through local grassroots organizations and efforts, and multiple years of data are critical for understanding variability. The researchers are focusing their efforts on anadromous systems that are important for subsistence, e.g. the Chilkat River and its tributaries.The model will be used to inform management measures that will seek to minimize adverse impacts from a changing climate and help to maintain healthy runs of wild salmon into the future.
TWC presented a Haines/Klukwan-area stream temperature monitoring network overview at the American Water Resources Alaska Chapter meeting in Juneau on September 17, 2019: Water Quality Monitoring in the Chilkat Watershed.
Temperature logger housings ready for deployment in the field
Support for this project has been provided by
Thank You! Gunalchéesh!