Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Climate Change Awareness: Lake and River Water Temperature Monitoring

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
December 2006 
Cliff Bennet Project Co-ordinator

Report on results of Lake and River Water-Temperature Monitoring in the Mississippi Watershed:

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists carried out a lake and river temperature monitoring program over the August 2006 long weekend as an `Open Doors to Nature Project’in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of Ontario Nature (Federation of Ontario Naturalists). A short report outlining the objectives and results was prepared by Paul Egginton, MVFN.

At the end of December 2006, all of the raw data plus copies of the report were deposited at the offices of Mississippi Valley Conservation in Lanark, and are available for viewing there. The report is also posted here. A final report with additional peripheral data important for putting the survey findings into perspective, will also be posted.

By all counts this project was a great success. We measured our patient’s temperature (the Mississippi Watershed) and found it to be, on the basis of nearly 675 surface-readings (and nearly 1400 readings in all), on average, about 26.4 C. Many scientists are warning that air temperatures will continue to rise. Lake and river temperatures will surely follow and there may be significant impacts on the Mississippi Watershed.

To help us adapt to such change it will be very useful to know whether mid-summer water temperatures do increase in future and at what rate. Our report suggests that there is more work to be done. However, MVFN wishes to sincerely thank all those who encouraged, supported and took part in this water-temperature monitoring effort. Special thanks to Susan Lee of Mississippi Valley Conservation who contributed greatly by providing logistical support for this project.

PDF Icon2007 Report on results of Mississippi Watershed water-temperature monitoring (Adobe Acrobat Reader Required)

PDF IconGraphs and Figures (Adobe Acrobat Reader Required)


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Climate Change Awareness Project – Water Temperature Monitoring

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”

Water Temperature Measurements – Guidelines  Water Temperature Measurements – Form

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.

To participate, please see a copy of the Water Temperature Measurements – Guidelines and the Water Temperature Measurements – Form.

Remember to stay safe on the water; do not sample in dangerous weather or water, and always wear a lifejacket.

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Local naturalists invite water-enthusiasts to water-temperature survey weekend to mark “Doors Open to Ontario Nature’s” 75th Anniversary celebration

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted July 2, 2006

by Pauline Donaldson, MVFN Public Relations Chair

Local naturalists invite water-enthusiasts to water-temperature survey weekend to mark “Doors Open to Ontario Nature’s” 75th Anniversary celebration

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists invite water-enthusiasts to take water temperatures in the Mississippi watershed over the August holiday weekend, August 5-7. MVFN is organizing a volunteer-driven water-temperature survey of the entire Mississippi River Watershed. Why the interest in taking temperatures in lakes and rivers, and why on the August holiday weekend? Water temperature is an important characteristic of aquatic habitat. Maximum annual surface temperatures, which typically occur here around the first week in August, are a key factor determining the species of fish and other aquatic life present.

The water-temperature survey weekend is MVFN’s contribution to “Doors Open to Ontario Nature”, a year long project celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Ontario Nature. It was 75 years ago that a University of Toronto Professor and zoology director at the Royal Ontario Museum proposed that natural history clubs join together to speak with one voice for nature conservation in Ontario. To mark the occasion, 75 projects are being hosted by the 140 plus conservation groups comprising the Ontario Nature Network.

The goal of the project is very simple, says Tracy Moore, Eastern Regional Director for Ontario Nature. “It will be a fun opportunity that connects people with nature, but it also serves to gather some very important data and raise awareness of climate change and its potential effects on our beautiful Eastern Ontario landscape”. MVFN’s theme this year on “Change in Our Natural World” started with a seminar on national and global climate change issues. Subsequent talks focused on its potential impact in various areas. MVFN members initiated local monitoring activities which, like the water-temperature project, focus on impacts of climate change in our own backyards. It is known, for example, that water-temperatures in some fresh water lakes in Ontario are on the rise, and, as MVFN heard from John Casselman (OMNR) in March, small changes in fresh water temperatures can lead to rather dramatic shifts in fish populations.

The water temperature project will involve individuals as well as members of naturalist, fish and game clubs, and cottage and lake associations with a direct interest in the watershed, in monitoring waters of the Mississippi Watershed. The results, coming from all across the watershed, should complement other monitoring work already being done and contribute to a better understanding of the watershed as we prepare for climate change. Participants can contact their local lake association for suggestions on where to sample, or choose their favourite stretch of river or lake and sample temperatures with friends and family. Reporting forms for temperature readings, and guidelines for participating, including tips for home-made depth sampling devices (such as the one shown in the photo) and choosing the right thermometer, will be available from participating lake associations.

The information can also be picked up at the MVFN booth at The Art of Being Green Festival in Lanark Village July 15-16, or viewed at MVFN’s website at For questions, the public can contact project coordinator Cliff Bennett at 613-256-5013 or by e-mail: .

All data collected will be provided to Mississippi Valley Conservation and MVFN will prepare an overview of the study findings for the public.

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