Walker River distributed temperature sensing, thermal infrared imaging, and temperature modeling data

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Created: Jul 11, 2019 at 7:56 p.m.
Last updated: May 17, 2022 at 5:24 p.m.
DOI: 10.4211/hs.fe3912e234a84478b767eff5db5fb9b5
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Watershed-scale stream temperature models are often one-dimensional because they require fewer data and are more computationally efficient than two- or three-dimensional models. However, one-dimensional models assume completely mixed reaches and ignore small-scale spatial temperature variability, which may create temperature barriers or refugia for cold-water aquatic species. Fine spatial and temporal resolution stream temperature monitoring provides information to identify river features with increased thermal variability. We used distributed temperature sensing (DTS) to observe small-scale stream temperature variability, measured as a temperature range through space and time, within two 400 meter reaches in summer 2015 in Nevada’s East Walker and mainstem Walker Rivers. Thermal infrared (TIR) aerial imagery collected in summer 2012 quantified the spatial temperature variability throughout the Walker Basin. We coupled both types of high resolution measured data with simulated stream temperatures to corroborate model results and estimate the spatial distribution of thermal refugia for Lahontan cutthroat trout and other cold-water species. Temperature model estimates were within the DTS measured temperature ranges 21% and 70% of the time for the East Walker River and mainstem Walker River, respectively, and within TIR measured temperatures 17%, 5%, and 5% of the time for the East Walker, West Walker, and mainstem Walker Rivers, respectively. DTS, TIR, and modeled stream temperatures in the mainstem Walker River nearly always exceeded the 21°C optimal temperature threshold for adult trout, usually exceeded the 24 °C stress threshold, and could exceed the 28 °C lethal threshold for Lahontan cutthroat trout. Measured stream temperature ranges bracketed ambient river temperatures by -10.1 to +2.3 °C in agricultural return flows, -1.2 to +4 °C at diversions, -5.1 to +2 °C in beaver dams, -4.2 to 0 °C at seeps. To better understand the role of these river features on thermal refugia during warm time periods, the respective temperature ranges were added to simulated stream temperatures at each of the identified river features. Based on this analysis, the average distance between thermal refugia in this system was 2.8 km. While simulated stream temperatures are often too warm to support Lahontan cutthroat trout and other cold-water species, thermal refugia may exist to improve habitat connectivity and facilitate trout movement between spawning and summer habitats. Overall, high resolution DTS and TIR measurements quantify temperature ranges of refugia and augment process-based modeling.

Subject Keywords

Resource Level Coverage


Coordinate System/Geographic Projection:
WGS 84 EPSG:4326
Coordinate Units:
Decimal degrees
Place/Area Name:
Walker Basin
North Latitude
East Longitude
South Latitude
West Longitude


Start Date:
End Date:


Related Resources

This resource is referenced by Wood, Jessica R. 2017. Stream temperature monitoring and modeling to inform restoration: a study of thermal variability in the western US. MS Thesis in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Utah State University.
This resource is referenced by Dzara, Jessica R., Bethany T. Neilson, Sarah E. Null. 2019. Quantifying thermal refugia connectivity by combining temperature modeling, distributed temperature sensing, and thermal infrared imaging. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 23: 1-18.
The content of this resource is derived from Watershed Sciences Inc.: Airborne Thermal Infrared Remote Sensing Walker River Basin (Winter), Available online: http://greatbasinresearch.com/walker/downloads/2013-Walker-Report-3a-Appendix-1.pdf, 2011.
The content of this resource is derived from Watershed Sciences Inc.: Airborne Thermal Infrared Remote Sensing Walker River Basin (Summer), Available online: http://greatbasinresearch.com/walker/downloads/2013-Walker-Report-3a-Appendix-2.pdf, 2012.


Funding Agencies

This resource was created using funding from the following sources:
Agency Name Award Title Award Number
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Walker Basin Project 2010-0059-201

How to Cite

Null, S., J. Dzara (2022). Walker River distributed temperature sensing, thermal infrared imaging, and temperature modeling data, HydroShare, https://doi.org/10.4211/hs.fe3912e234a84478b767eff5db5fb9b5

This resource is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY.



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