An Integrated Assessment of Lake and Stream Thermal Habitat Under Climate Change

Fiscal Year: 
Project Leader: 
Research Partners: 
Matt Diebel (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources); Gretchen A. Hansen (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources); Peter C. Jacobson (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources); Emily H. Stanley (Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin – Madison); Kevin Wehrly (Michigan Department of Natural Resources); Luke A. Winslow (Center for Integrated Data Analytics, USGS); Kevin Rose (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); Megan Hines (Center for Integrated Data Analytics, USGS); Dale Robertson (Wisconsin Water Science Center, USGS)
Science Themes: 

Water temperatures are warming in lakes and streams, resulting in the loss of many native fish. Given clear passage, coldwater stream fishes can take refuge upstream when larger streams become too warm. Likewise, many Midwestern lakes “thermally stratify” resulting in warmer waters on top of deeper, cooler waters. Many of these lakes are connected to threatened streams. To date, assessments of the effects of climate change on fish have mostly ignored lakes, and focused instead on streams. Because surface waters represent a network of habitats, an integrated assessment of stream and lake temperatures under climate change is necessary for decision-making. This work will inform the preservation of lake/stream linkages, prioritization restoration strategies, and stocking efforts for sport fish. This project will employ state-of-the-science methods to model historical and future thermal habitat for nearly ten thousand lakes. These data will be combined with observations of fish, stream connectivity and stream temperature data to predict suitable fish thermal habitat. The results of this project will be used by partners and stakeholders to prioritize adaptation and restoration strategies for the region’s freshwater resources. Additionally, these data products will be shared openly in machine-readable formats to spur other innovation and research.


  • Gretchen Hansen and Jordan Read. Presentation at the UW-Madison's Center for Limnology graduate symposium, October 28, 2015.
  • Luke Winslow et al. Modeling past and future thermal conditions for 2,500 Wisconsin managed lakes. American Fisheries Society 145th Annual meeting, Quebec City. August 17, 2015.
  • Gretchen Hansen et al. Resilience of Walleye thermal habitat to climate change in Wisconsin lakes. American Fisheries Society 145th Annual meeting, Quebec City. August 17, 2015.
  • Gretchen Hansen et al. What’s the deal with Wisconsin’s walleye? (Webinar). Climate Change Science & Management Webinar Series (NCCWSC). September 29, 2015.
  • Luke Winslow. Some like it hot: Understanding past and future climate trends and impacts in Middwestern lakes. National Wildlife Health Center. April 2015
  • Presentations at American Fisheries Society 146th Annual meeting by PIs Read and Hansen. Oral presentation by Winslow at the ASLO Ocean Sciences meeting. Stakeholder workshop hosted by the team in WI Feb 28-Mar2. 
  • Jordan Read gave an invited presentation to the Join Research Committee and Federal Geographic Data Committee  called ""Modeling the past and future of 10,000 economically valuable lakes: Applying water and climate data to management needs", representing USGS as part of "Big Data" activities. March 8, 2016
  • Invited presentation by PI Hansen at the National Adaptation Forum/Minnesota Climate Adaptation Conference. Variable lake and fish community responses to climate change. May 9, 2017.
  • Jordan Read presenting on this project at the UW-Madison water symposium on May 9th, 2017
  • Jordan Read and Gretchen Hansen, Climate change impacts on lake thermal habitat. NE CSC Webinar, March, 2017.


Attached Files: 
PDF icon NECSC_Story_SportFish.pdf