Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017CT305B

Evaluation of created thermal refugia in streams as a climate adaptation strategy for fish populations experiencing thermal stress

Institute: Connecticut
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $7,800 Total Non-Federal Funds: $25,500

Principal Investigators: Jason Vokoun, Martin Briggs

Abstract: Climate change creates thermal stresses for freshwater fish assemblages in streams that presents problems for the persistence of cold and coolwater-adapted species. Fish are adept at finding thermal refuge at places where cooler tributaries join main channels and where groundwater upwells through the substrate. Predicted new climate conditions for the Northeastern USA include hotter warm seasons with increased frequencies of short-duration drought. We aim to explore the viability of creating and characterizing thermal refugia by pumping small volumes of shallow floodplain groundwater into the channel. Our objectives are to better understand by which method and in what volume pumped groundwater can establish thermal refugia and to further experiment with different techniques of introducing the cooler groundwater to the surface flows. We will accomplish the objectives by using a heat tracing strategy that combines sub-surface fiber-optic distributed temperature sensing with surface infrared imaging to characterize the extent of the created temperature anomaly. Data collection will focus on capturing a range of ambient water temperatures and stream discharges.