Lake and River Water-Temperature Measurements in the Mississippi Watershed:
“A Doors Open to Nature, Ontario Nature 75th Anniversary Project, organized by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists”
Help gather data on one aspect of wildlife habitat in our local watershed which may be affected by climate change!
During the past year the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists have been exploring the theme of change in our natural world, particularly climate change. Several of our regular seminar sessions focused on aspects of global climate change including recent changes in the arctic and changes in Ontario fish populations. We also began several local monitoring projects to raise awareness of the issue of climate change and to better understand the possible effects in our own backyards.
We are interested in how climate change may directly affect the Mississippi watershed and adjacent areas. Therefore, for Ontario Nature’s “Doors Open to Nature” we have organized a data collection weekend engaging participants with a direct interest in the watershed to measure surface water temperatures across the watershed on the three day August holiday weekend, August 5-7, 2006. One important aspect of watershed wildlife habitat in the watershed is temperature of the water. Maximum annual surface temperatures, which typically occur here around the first week in August, are a key factor determining which species of fish and other aquatic life thrive.
The plan is to collect water-temperature readings at the water surface and 1 metre below the surface on the Mississippi River and connected lakes in the watershed. To our knowledge, this is the first ever volunteer-driven survey of the entire watershed. The data could be used as a starting point, or baseline, which, along with other available information, can be compared with future temperatures. We hope the activity will promote discussion of this aspect of habitat variability in our watershed, and of the implications of climate change here.
Participants will include individual cottagers, vacationers, fishers etc., as well as groups such as cottage and lake associations. If you will be out on the water on the holiday weekend, plan to participate. All that is needed is a boat, a good thermometer, a home-made sampling device and the project’s water-temperature reporting form to record temperatures.When the weekend is over and temperature readings are sent in, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists in partnership with Mississippi Valley Conservation will look at the results and prepare an overview for public release. Some data collected may indicate sites where long-term monitoring would be useful. An increased awareness of this aspect of habitat change should also serve to promote sustainability practices and measures.
Remember to stay safe on the water; do not sample in dangerous weather or water, and always wear a lifejacket.