Influence of landscape and hydrological factors on stream–air temperature relationships at regional scale

Aurélien Beaufort, Florentina Moatar, Eric Sauquet, Pierre Loicq, David M. Hannah

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6 Citations (Scopus)
122 Downloads (Pure)


Identifying the main controlling factors of the stream temperature (Tw) variability is important to target streams sensitive to climate and other drivers of change. The thermal sensitivity (TS), based on relationship between air temperature (Ta) and Tw, of a given stream can be used for quantifying the streams sensitivity to future climate change. This study aims to compare TS for a wide range of temperate streams located within a large French catchment (110,000 km 2) using 4 years of hourly data (2008–2012) and to cluster stations sharing similar thermal variabilities and thereby identify environmental key drivers that modify TS at the regional scale. Two successive classifications were carried out: (a) first based on Ta–Tw relationship metrics including TS and (b) second to establish a link between a selection of environmental variables and clusters of stations. Based on weekly Ta–Tw relationships, the first classification identified four thermal regimes with differing annual Tw in terms of magnitude and amplitudes in comparison with Ta. The second classification, based on classification and regression tree method, succeeded to link each thermal regime to different environmental controlling factors. Streams influenced by both groundwater inflows and shading are the most moderated with the lowest TS and an annual amplitude of Tw around half of the annual amplitude of Ta. Inversely, stations located on large streams with a high distance from source and not (or slightly) influenced by groundwater inflows nor shading showed the highest TS, and so, they are very climate sensitive. These findings have implications for guiding river basin managers and other stakeholders in implementing thermal moderation measures in the context of a warming climate and global change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-597
Number of pages15
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number3
Early online date25 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2020


  • CART method
  • classification
  • regional scale
  • stream temperature
  • thermal sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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