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Estimating Water Temperatures in Small Streams in Western Oregon Using Neural Network Models

By John C. Risley, U.S. Geological Survey, Edwin A. Roehl, Jr., Advanced Data Mining, LLC,and Paul A. Conrads, U.S. Geological Survey

Water-Resources Investigations Report 02-4218

Prepared in cooperation with the



Report cover



Data Collection
Model Development
Model Application
Summary and Conclusions
References Cited
Appendix A. Site list for water temperature
     and habitat survey data collection
Appendix B. Model input variable tables and
     sensitivity analyses
Appendix C. Model operation instructions


Artificial neural network models were developed to estimate water temperatures in small streams using data collected at 148 sites throughout western Oregon from June to September 1999. The sites were located on 1st-, 2nd-, or 3rd-order streams having undisturbed or minimally disturbed conditions. Data collected at each site for model development included continuous hourly water temperature and description of riparian habitat. Additional data pertaining to the landscape characteristics of the basins upstream of the sites were assembled using geographic information system (GIS) techniques. Hourly meteorological time series data collected at 25 locations within the study region also were assembled.

Clustering analysis was used to partition 142 sites into 3 groups. Separate models were developed for each group. The riparian habitat, basin characteristic, and meteorological time series data were independent variables and water temperature time series were dependent variables to the models, respectively. Approximately one-third of the data vectors were used for model training, and the remaining two-thirds were used for model testing. Critical input variables included riparian shade, site elevation, and percentage of forested area of the basin. Coefficient of determination and root mean square error for the models ranged from 0.88 to 0.99 and 0.05 to 0.59 oC, respectively. The models also were tested and validated using temperature time series, habitat, and basin landscape data from 6 sites that were separate from the 142 sites that were used to develop the models.

The models are capable of estimating water temperatures at locations along 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-order streams in western Oregon. The model user must assemble riparian habitat and basin landscape characteristics data for a site of interest. These data, in addition to meteorological data, are model inputs. Output from the models include simulated hourly water temperatures for the June to September period. Adjustments can be made to the shade input data to simulate the effects of minimum or maximum shade on water temperatures.

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