Development of a Model for Prediction of the Thermal Impact of Land-Use Change on Coldwater Streams in Urbanizing Watersheds

EPA Grant Number: F6A10608
Title: Development of a Model for Prediction of the Thermal Impact of Land-Use Change on Coldwater Streams in Urbanizing Watersheds
Investigators: Janke, Benjamin
Institution: University of Minnesota
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: September 1, 2006 through September 1, 2009
Project Amount: $111,172
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Civil/Environmental Engineering , Water and Watersheds


This project will investigate the impact of urban development and land-use change on the temperature of trout streams in urbanizing watersheds through modeling and field study efforts. Temperatures are of concern because trout and other aquatic biota are sensitive to both warmer and rapidly-changing temperatures. Urban development typically increases the amount of impervious surface and reduces natural shading provided by vegetation, while also increasing the volume and rate at which storm water reaches receiving streams. The result is a warming of rainfall runoff and a reduction of overall infiltration and groundwater recharge in the watershed, which contributes to warming of streams in addition to other problems such as sedimentation and chemical pollution.

1) To understand the thermal and hydrological processes on a variety of time and spatial scales that contribute to warming of streams. These processes include storm water runoff, infiltration and groundwater flow, shading by vegetation, and heat exchange between runoff and impervious surfaces.
2) To investigate the effect of existing storm water management practices (e.g., storm sewers, detention ponds, infiltration basins) on the temperature of water reaching receiving streams.
3) To produce an assessment tool to determine the impact of proposed urban development on runoff and stream temperatures in a watershed. The intended users of such a tool include state and local agencies, city planners, and developers.


The research plan will emphasize model development, fieldwork and data assembly, model validation, and model application. Model development will include review of available models, assembling a set of energy and water mass balance equations, and determining input data needed. Data required include climate, storm water flow and temperature, groundwater depth or flow, soil and surface properties, and stream flow and temperature measurements. The output from the model will include flow and temperature of the investigated stream reach. The model will be applied to actual stream reaches in the state of Minnesota, the selection of which will be aided by input from state agencies.

Expected Results:

It is expected that no single factor will prove to dominate the heating of trout streams; rather it will be the combination of all or most of the processes mentioned previously. It is hoped that a model can be developed that will be practical enough to assist those in charge of making decisions concerning urban development, without sacrificing accuracy.

Supplemental Keywords:

urban development, trout streams, stream temperature modeling, storm water management, thermal pollution, land use change, hydrology, surface energy budget,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Hydrology, Monitoring/Modeling, Environmental Monitoring, Ecology and Ecosystems, anthropogenic stress, urbanization, ecosystem management model, environmental measurement, watershed, environmental impact, modeling, ecological models, hydrologic modeling, thermal properties, land use

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • Final