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Climate studies have suggested that inland stream temperatures and average streamflows will increase over the next century in New England, thereby putting aquatic species sustained by coldwater habitats at risk. This study uses the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to simulate historical streamflow and stream temperatures within three forested, baseflow-driven watersheds in Rhode Island, USA followed by simulations of future climate scenarios for comparison. Low greenhouse gas emission scenarios are based on the 2007 International Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) B1 scenario and the high emissions are based on the SRES A1fi scenario. The output data are analyzed to identify daily occurrences where brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) are exposed to stressful events, defined herein as any day where Q25 or Q75 flows occur simultaneously with stream temperatures exceeding 21 °C. Results indicate that under both high- and low-emission greenhouse gas scenarios, coldwater fish species such as brook trout will be increasingly exposed to stressful events. The percent chance of stressful event occurrence increased by an average of 6.5% under low-emission scenarios and by 14.2% under high-emission scenarios relative to the historical simulations.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.