Estimating cumulative effects of clearcutting on stream temperatures



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The Stream Segment Temperature Model was used to estimate cumulative effects of large-scale timber harvest on stream temperature. Literature values were used to create parameters for the model for two hypothetical situations, one forested and the other extensively clearcut. Results compared favorably with field studies of extensive forest canopy removal. The model provided insight into the cumulative effects of clearcutting. Change in stream shading was, as expected, the most influential factor governing increases in maximum daily water temperature, accounting for 40% of the total increase. Altered stream width was found to be more influential than changes to air temperature. Although the net effect from clearcutting was a 4oC warming, increased wind and reduced humidity tended to cool the stream. Temperature increases due to clearcutting persisted 10 km downstream into an unimpacted forest segment of the hypothetical stream, but those increases were moderated by cooler equilibrium conditions downstream. The model revealed that it is a complex set of factors, not single factors such as shade or air temperature, that governs stream temperature dynamics.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Estimating cumulative effects of clearcutting on stream temperatures
Series title Rivers
Volume 7
Issue 4
Year Published 2000
Language English
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 14 p.
First page 284
Last page 297