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WIREs Water
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What else do managers need to know about warming rivers? A United Kingdom perspective

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River flow and water temperature are fundamental controls of freshwater ecosystems. Hence, future warming could impact valued habitats and species, particularly those with cold water preferences (such as salmonids). Warming could also exacerbate existing environmental pressures or diminish the effectiveness of management interventions. Climate model projections provide compelling evidence of the need for adaptation despite uncertainty about the timing, nature, and distribution of impacts on water quality, vulnerable species, and habitats. Low‐regret adaptation options to manage temperature impacts include increasing riparian shade, enhancing thermal refugia, and removing thermal barriers or hotspots. Indirect controls include managing river flows through abstraction and discharge regulation, moderating flow control structures, and manipulating channel hydromorphology. However, fundamental gaps in understanding may limit the effectiveness of some of these measures, leading to undesired side effects, wasted resources, ineffectual outcomes, or limited uptake. These knowledge gaps include where to target measures, how to implement in different situations, how to maximize co‐benefits and integrate with other policy objectives, and how to support implementation across rural and agricultural landscapes. Despite many uncertainties, restoration of riparian shade and river flows has the potential to deliver multiple benefits even if this does not include retarding rates of warming. WIREs Water 2015, 2:55–64. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1062 This article is categorized under: Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness Water and Life > Stresses and Pressures on Ecosystems Science of Water > Water and Environmental Change
Conceptual impact of some catchment variables on stream temperature from catchment headwaters to outlets. (Adapted from Ref. ).
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Amount and distribution of riparian tree cover in England and Wales presented as an average percentage cover for all river units defined as water bodies under the EU WFD [white areas represent missing data].
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Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness
Water and Life > Stresses and Pressures on Ecosystems
Science of Water > Water and Environmental Change

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