A spatio-temporal statistical model of maximum daily river temperatures to inform the management of Scotland's Atlantic salmon rivers under climate change

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Faye L. Jackson
  • Robert J. Fryer
  • David Hannah
  • Colin P. Millar
  • Iain A. Malcolm

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Marine Scotland Science


The thermal suitability of riverine habitats for cold water adapted species may be reduced under climate change. Riparian tree planting is a practical climate change mitigation measure, but it is often unclear where to focus effort for maximum benefit. Recent developments in data collection, monitoring and statistical methods have facilitated the development of increasingly sophisticated river temperature models capable of predicting spatial variability at large scales appropriate to management. In parallel, improvements in temporal river temperature models have increased the accuracy of temperature predictions at individual sites. This study developed a novel large scale spatio-temporal model of maximum daily river temperature (Twmax) for Scotland that predicts variability in both river temperature and climate sensitivity. Twmax was modelled as a linear function of maximum daily air temperature (Tamax), with the slope and intercept allowed to vary as a smooth function of day of the year (DoY) and further modified by landscape covariates including elevation, channel orientation and riparian woodland. Spatial correlation in Twmax was modelled at two scales; (1) river network (2) regional. Temporal correlation was addressed through an autoregressive (AR1) error structure for observations within sites. Additional site level variability was modelled with random effects. The resulting model was used to map (1) spatial variability in predicted Twmax under current (but extreme) climate conditions (2) the sensitivity of rivers to climate variability and (3) the effects of riparian tree planting. These visualisations provide innovative tools for informing fisheries and land-use management under current and future climate.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1543-1558
Number of pages16
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date15 Sep 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2018


  • Climate sensitivity, Fisheries management, Generalized additive mixed model, Maximum river temperature, Spatio-temporal model