This work reviews the use of heat as a tracer of shallow groundwater movement and describes current temperature-based approaches for estimating streambed water exchanges. Four common hydrologic conditions in stream channels are graphically depicted with the expected underlying streambed thermal responses, and techniques are discussed for installing and monitoring temperature and stage equipment for a range of hydrological environments. These techniques are divided into direct-measurement techniques in streams and streambeds, groundwater techniques relying on traditional observation wells, and remote sensing and other large-scale advanced temperatureacquisition techniques. A review of relevant literature suggests researchers often graphically visualize temperature data to enhance conceptual models of heat and water flow in the near-stream environment and to determine site-specific approaches of data analysis. Common visualizations of stream and streambed temperature patterns include thermographs, temperature envelopes, and one-, two-, and three-dimensional temperature contour plots. Heat and water transport governing equations are presented for the case of transport in streambeds, followed by methods of streambed data analysis, including simple heat-pulse arrival time and heat-loss procedures, analytical and time series solutions, and heat and water transport simulation models. A series of applications of these methods are presented for a variety of stream settings ranging from arid to continental climates. Progressive successes to quantify both streambed fluxes and the spatial extent of streambeds indicate heat-tracing tools help define the streambed as a spatially distinct field (analogous to soil science), rather than simply the lower boundary in stream research or an amorphous zone beneath the stream channel.
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Heat as a tracer to determine streambed water exchanges