Stream-temperature patterns of the Muddy Creek basin, Anne Arundel County, Maryland

Water-Resources Investigations Report 81-18


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Using a water-balance equation based on a 4.25-year gaging-station record on North Fork Muddy Creek, the following mean annual values were obtained for the Muddy Creek basin: precipitation, 49.0 inches; evapotranspiration, 28.0 inches; runoff, 18.5 inches; and underflow, 2.5 inches. Average freshwater outflow from the Muddy Creek basin to the Rhode River estuary was 12.2 cfs during the period October 1, 1971, to December 31, 1975. Harmonic equations were used to describe seasonal maximum and minimum stream-temperature patterns at 12 sites in the basin. These equations were fitted to continuous water-temperature data obtained periodically at each site between November 1970 and June 1978. The harmonic equations explain at least 78 percent of the variance in maximum stream temperatures and 81 percent of the variance in minimum temperatures. Standard errors of estimate averaged 2.3C (Celsius) for daily maximum water temperatures and 2.1C for daily minimum temperatures. Mean annual water temperatures developed for a 5.4-year base period ranged from 11.9C at Muddy Creek to 13.1C at Many Fork Branch. The largest variations in stream temperatures were detected at thermograph sites below ponded reaches and where forest coverage was sparse or missing. At most sites the largest variations in daily water temperatures were recorded in April whereas the smallest were in September and October. The low thermal inertia of streams in the Muddy Creek basin tends to amplify the impact of surface energy-exchange processes on short-period stream-temperature patterns. Thus, in response to meteorologic events, wide ranging stream-temperature perturbations of as much as 6C have been documented in the basin. (USGS)
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Stream-temperature patterns of the Muddy Creek basin, Anne Arundel County, Maryland
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 81-18
DOI 10.3133/wri8118
Edition -
Year Published 1981
Language ENGLISH
Description p. 143
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