Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Bethany T. Neilson (Committee Chair)


Bethany T. Neilson


Douglas L. Kane


Jeffrey S. Horsburgh


S.-Y. Simon Wang


Alfonso F. Torres-Rua


Temperatures strongly affect physical, chemical, and biological processes in rivers and streams. The processes that influence river temperatures are known across most geographic regions, but the relative importance varies significantly. Little is known about what controls water temperature Arctic rivers, limiting our ability to understand the impacts of climate change. This dissertation addresses this knowledge gap by incorporating field measurements with river temperature modeling to estimate the relative importance of key factors that affect Arctic river temperatures. Results indicate that shortwave radiation (e.g., sunlight) and net longwave radiation are significant throughout an Arctic watershed in all flow conditions. In areas where the river is smaller, however, exchange of water with the riverbed and inputs of water from the landscape become significant under low-flow and high-flow conditions, respectively. Additional field observations and modeling were used to quantify the water and heat exchanges between the river and the riverbed. These heat exchanges were found to cool the river and reduce the daily range of temperatures. To better estimate the flow of water from the landscape to the river, a new method for estimating river flow was developed using high-resolution aerial imagery. This method allows us to estimate river flow without depending on field measurements, and presents a potential solution to barriers in performing river temperature modeling in other parts of the Arctic.