Fellow Highlight: NorEast Stream Temperature Web Portal

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lynn Brennan, NE CSC Fellow (Photo: John Solem, UMass Amherst)

Lynn Brennan has been a part of the Northeast Climate Science Center (NE CSC) for the past year and a half while pursuing her master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from UMass Amherst. Brennan earned her undergraduate degree at State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. And after earning her bachelor's degree, Brennan spent three years working for USDA, where she focused on water quality work.

At the NE CSC, Brennan has been working alongside Dr. Richard Palmer, a UMass Amherst professor and water resources engineer. The two have been working on the NorEaST Stream Temperature Project for the NE CSC. This project is a comprehensive assessment of current stream temperature models; the goal is to aid natural resource managers in figuring out which models are needed for specific basins in the NE CSC region. This project will also include climate change analysis for the NECSC region. The information is being made available for managers to use for their own needs.

The goal of Brennan’s work is to be able to determine whether or not the needs of natural resource managers related to information on stream temperature are being met. She believes it is important to identify a potential gap between what managers need and what is currently available. Her work targets people who make management decisions regarding streams, including those in local, state and federal agencies. More specifically, natural resource agencies like state Fish and Wildlife Departments are the people who Brennan hopes to help. As Brennan puts it, "hopefully it will increase efficiency for the natural resource managers."

Ken Sprankle is a fish biologist and Connecticut River Coordinator at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. According to Sprankle, “State and federal fishery managers such as myself who are tasked with working to restore and manage wild fish populations that are at depressed levels of abundance face other challenges with water temps being an additional factor that must be considered in interpreting data and data analyses.”. Brennan’s work is important because, according to Sprankle, “water temps are an important cue and mechanism in the timing of adult and juvenile life stages migration, feeding, growth, spawning, egg and larval development.”

Climate change is a major concern for those in the field. Sprankle said, “Attempting to document status and trends as well as potential future conditions can be used to inform management actions and measures in a strategic manner, and adjust management measures to reflect the potential uncertainty and effects that are anticipated with those changes.”

Brennan’s goal by the end of her time at the Northeast Climate Science Center is to have a product that is useful to resource managers. As for her own future, Brennan hopes to work for a federal or state agency dealing with water resources, particularly natural channels and aquatic habitats.

By Kayla Marchetti, 2014 NE CSC Undergraduate Intern

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Photos: John Solem, UMass Amherst