Ebersole, J.L., Liss, W.J., and C.A. Frissell. 2003. Coldwater patches in warm streams: physicochemical characteristics and the influence of shading. J. Am. Water Resources Assn. 39(2)355-368. WED-02-148
Discrete cold water patches within the surface waters of summer warm streams afford potential thermal refuge for cold water fishes during periods of heat stress. This analysis focused on reach scale heterogeneity in water temperatures as influenced by local influx of cooler subsurface waters. Using field thermal probes and recording thermistors, we identified and characterized cold water patches (at least 3°C colder than ambient streamflow temperatures) potentially serving as thermal refugia for cold water fishes. Among 37 study sites within alluvial valleys of the Grande Ronde basin in northeastern Oregon, we identified cold water patches associated with side channels, alcoves, lateral seeps, and floodplain spring brooks. These types differed with regard to within floodplain position, area, spatial thermal range, substrate, and availability of cover for fish. Experimental shading cooled daily maximum temperatures of surface waters within cold water patches 2 to 4°C, indicating a strong influence of riparian vegetation on the expression of cold water patch thermal characteristics. Strong vertical temperature gradients associated with heating of surface layers of cold water patches exposed to solar radiation, superimposed upon vertical gradients in dissolved oxygen, can partially restrict suitable refuge volumes for stream salmonids within cold water patch.