Geography & Planning
2018 - 2021
Supervisor(s): Dongmei Chen
Research Project: Land use and climate change impacts on water temperature in the St. Lawrence River Watershed
The watershed of Lake Ontario is home to 10.1 million people and flows northeast into the St. Lawrence River, which is a a major transportation route for shipping, features a set of damns and lock systems, and is a changing complex ecosystem. As populations continue to grow and natural disturbance increases it is likely that human ad climate influences on the St. Lawrence River Watershed will change the landscape, if it already has not been. Water temperature is one of the most important factors influencing the biology and distribution of freshwater fish which are a central part of the rivers ecosystem. Land use change in watersheds is a common altering force, however change can come in various forms such as urban expansion, agriculture, forest harvesting, natural disturbances, hydrological alterations, and cumulative impacts. It is important to investigate the impact of these land alterations because they will not only effect the area around them but also the land surrounding them and whatever may lie downstream. By understanding changes in surface water temperature of the St. Lawrence River and how changes in water temperature can relate to land use changes, we can better understand the health of the ecosystem and future management of the watershed. My objective is to determine the St. Lawrence River's Watershed's overall health by using water temperature changes as an indicator of the impact of land use change or climate change, and how changing land use nearby crucial habitat impacts local biodiversity.