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  • by Trevor Loveday

Climate change warming of rivers threatens "aquatic life and society" scientists warn

UK researchers have shown how reduced water flows and rising river water temperatures arising from drought conditions are “creating major challenges for aquatic life, ecosystems, and society”.

The scientists from the universities of Birmingham and Nottingham along with the Scottish government’s Marine Directorate have found that high atmospheric temperatures arising from climate change are threatening fish as well as other species and entire ecosystems.

Their findings published in the journal Hydrological Processes, described how intense sunlight combined with declining water levels and volumes, and slower flow velocities during droughts will warm up waters more quickly.

Professor of Hydrology, UNESCO Chair in Water Sciences at the University of Birmingham and co-author of the report, David Hannah, said: “High atmospheric temperatures and such trends will become more intense and frequent with climate change. However, certain management interventions such as riverside planting, and river restoration initiatives could help to offset high thermal extremes during droughts if interventions are well targeted.”

The researchers note that catchment-wide approaches to river restoration are required. Those measures, they said, should consider how high river water temperature extremes can be offset while delivering other environmental and ecological benefits.


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