Rivers becoming warmer with rising temperature: Study
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Last Updated: Tuesday, April 13, 2010, 19:05
Washington: It's not just the air and ocean temperature that is rising very fast, rivers also seem to be heating up because of the climate change, a new research has claimed.

Ecologists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science in Solomons claimed that over the past few decades, 20 major streams and rivers in the US have warmed significantly with temperatures in some rivers have risen by over three degrees Celsius.

Such warmer river conditions, the scientists said, could threaten both the biodiversity of waterways and the livelihood of people who depend on them, especially in cities where heat-island effects accelerate warming, the Discovery.com reported.

Sujay Kaushal, an ecologist at the university and the lead author of the study, said: "Even modest changes in temperature can have big biological effects."

"We're seeing the fastest rates of temperature increase in the most highly urbanised areas. That leads us to believe it's a one-two punch of global warming and development."

For their research, Kaushal and his colleagues pieced together all the long-term water temperature data they could find for 40 streams and rivers around the country.

Sources included old drinking water records, monitoring programmes, and water-quality studies conducted by the United States Geological Survey.

Reporting their findings in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the researchers said the data, in 20 rivers they looked at, clearly showed warming, ranging from about 0.01 degree to 0.08 degree C per year.

Those are small numbers but the fractions added up over time -- to as much as a 3 degree C rise in Maryland's Patuxent River in less than 60 years, and probably more in other places, they said.

According to the findings, fastest rates of warming occurred near urban areas in the Mid-Atlantic States, including along the Potomac River outside of Washington DC, the Delaware River near Chester, Penn, and the Patuxent River.


First Published: Tuesday, April 13, 2010, 19:05

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