Modelling Water Temperature’s Sensitivity to Atmospheric Warming and River Flow

  • Shaik RehanaEmail author
  • Francisco Munoz-Arriola
  • Daniel A. Rico
  • Shannon L. Bartelt-Hunt


River water bodies serve as prominent water sources for various purposes ranging from drinking water, waste load allocation, irrigation, hydropower generation and ecosystem services. Human activities and natural processes require a balanced water supply and demand, while population growth, land use and climate change are the external forces which try to change the stream and river water quantity and quality. Water temperature is an inherent property of its quality and a controlling factor of health of freshwater environments. It is often considered as a driver of metabolic activity in water bodies, which influence the biological and chemical processes affecting the metabolic responses from organisms to ecosystems. The present work aims to explore sources of predictability of river water temperature (RWT) as a keen driver of hydrological and ecological processes at multiple scales. Increasing RWT in response to climate change and local-to-regional anthropogenic activities result in decreasing dissolved oxygen (DO) levels and anaerobic conditions in the aquatic system, thereby affecting marine life and the consequent availability of food, reproduction and migration. An assessment of integrated RWT and streamflow fluctuations is proposed to evidence biological activity, chemical speciation, oxygen solubility and self-purification capacity of a river system and fluctuations of flows responsive to hydro-climate pulses. The independent and integrated contributions of air temperatures and flow fluctuations to RWT in the Missouri River near Nebraska City, USA, represent the stream responses to global raising temperatures. To quantify the contributions of multiple variations of predictor variables in the air-water interfaces to RWT variability, we use a multiple regression. The performance of the model was tested along Missouri River near Nebraska City, USA, using historical series of daily river water temperature, air temperature and river discharges for the 1947–2014 period. A sensitivity analysis on river water temperature is performed, under air temperature increase of +2 °C, +4 °C and + 6 °C with a decrease of discharge of ±20%. Overall, the increase of RWT for the Missouri River is observed as about 2.76 °C under various air temperature and discharge changes when compared with the observed conditions at mean annual scale. The study results provide a comprehensive analysis of the impacts of river discharge and air temperature changes under climate change over RWT.


River water temperature Climate change River water quality 



The research work presented in the manuscript is a part of Water Advanced Research and Innovation (WARI) Fellowship Program supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), the Daugherty Water for Food Institute (DWFI) and the Indo-US Science Technology Forum (IUSSTF).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shaik Rehana
    • 1
    Email author
  • Francisco Munoz-Arriola
    • 2
  • Daniel A. Rico
    • 3
  • Shannon L. Bartelt-Hunt
    • 4
  1. 1.Lab for Spatial InformaticsInternational Institute of Information TechnologyHyderabadIndia
  2. 2.Department of Biological Systems EngineeringUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA
  3. 3.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA
  4. 4.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

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