Development of spatial regression models for predicting summer river temperatures from landscape characteristics: Implications for land and fisheries management

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • F. L. Jackson
  • David Hannah
  • R. J. Fryer
  • C. P. Millar
  • I. A. Malcolm

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)


There is increasing demand for models that can accurately predict river temperature at the large spatial scales appropriate to river management. This paper combined summer water temperature data from a strategically designed, quality controlled network of 25 sites, with recently developed flexible spatial regression models, to understand and predict river temperature across a 3,000 km2 river catchment. Minimum, mean and maximum temperatures were modelled as a function of nine potential landscape covariates that represented proxies for heat and water exchange processes. Generalised additive models were used to allow for flexible responses. Spatial structure in the river network data (local spatial variation) was accounted for by including river network smoothers. Minimum and mean temperatures decreased with increasing elevation, riparian woodland and channel gradient. Maximum temperatures increased with channel width. There was greater between-river and between-reach variability in all temperature metrics in lower-order rivers indicating that increased monitoring effort should be focussed at these smaller scales. The combination of strategic network design and recently developed spatial statistical approaches employed in this study have not been used in previous studies of river temperature. The resulting catchment scale temperature models provide a valuable quantitative tool for understanding and predicting river temperature variability at the catchment scales relevant to land use planning and fisheries management and provide a template for future studies.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1225–1238
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number6
Early online date31 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • Landscape covariates, Prediction, River temperature, Scotland, Spatial regression models

ASJC Scopus subject areas