View of a large river in an urban setting.
Photo Credit: Spencer Tassone

New Synthesis Incubator: Spatiotemporal patterns of aquatic heatwaves in western US rivers

Quick Summary

  • Heatwaves in river water temperature are increasing partly because of climate warming.
  • This project synthesizes water temperature and wildfire data from rivers across the western United States to better understand how riverine heatwaves develop and how they are affected by wildfire.
  • Learn more about the project at

The Center for Watershed Sciences is excited to share a newly funded Synthesis Incubator project to synthesize water temperature and wildfire data from rivers across the western United States to characterize spatiotemporal patterns of riverine heatwaves and how they might be affected by wildfire. Congratulations to PIs Jonathan Walter, Steven Sadro, Adrianne Smits, Sarah Null, Curtis Gray, Spencer Tassone!

Similar to heatwaves in our atmosphere, rivers can experience heatwaves in water temperature defined by discrete but prolonged periods where temperatures substantially exceed norms. Heatwaves in rivers have increased over time partly because of climate warming, but their study is in its infancy and many questions about how riverine heatwaves develop and spread through river networks remain unanswered. This project seeks to address these knowledge gaps by analyzing data on river temperatures in the western USA, including California. One question of particular interest for the team is how wildfire affects the prevalence and severity of riverine heatwaves in the years following fire. 

Learn more about the project here. View all funded Incubator proposals here. 

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