Elevated water temperatures are believed to be a widespread environmental problem and a major contributor to the decline of the aquatic ecosystems in Nova Scotia. Many of our rivers that formerly supported coldwater aquatic communities, including Atlantic salmon and Brook trout are warmer now than they were decades ago. Warm water temperatures could be an important factor limiting the abundance of these salmon and trout populations since it controls food production, which affects growth rates of juvenile salmonids and can be lethal to both juveniles and adults when the water temperature increases.
Rivers, even those which are geographically close together, may vary enormously in their water temperatures. This is due to various factors including but not limited to poor land use practices, (clear-cut forestry/agriculture/recreational users), dams and climate change.
Due to these concerns about the effect of temperatures on salmon and trout populations in Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Salmon Association initiated a "Thermal Monitoring Network" in conjunction with its affiliate organizations. Prior to this project, only sporadic, short-term or crude data on water temperature was available. The strength of this partnership provides good solid temperature data that enables NSSA to develop and update a Thermal Map of Nova Scotia and database for evaluating the effects of climate change on Nova Scotia rivers. This data is being shared with Government agencies and private/public organizations for use in developing "River Specific Management Strategies".
Monitoring The Nova Scotia Salmon Association purchased temperature data loggers with financial assistance from a private donor. These units were purchased from VEMCO Inc, a Nova Scotia instrumentation company specializing in this equipment. The loggers are small accurate units about 4 inches in length and 1 inch in diameter, which when anchored to the streambed are easily concealed. Each of the data loggers have an identification number that has been recorded and assigned to each of the participating affiliate groups in order to keep track of each unit.
The units are pre-programmed by Lewis Hinks of the Atlantic Salmon Federation to record the water temperature at 30 minute intervals and then distributed to each of the participating groups in the spring of each year. The Atlantic Salmon Federation has a computer interface and a laptop computer for the downloading of the data from the units. The information will he downloaded in the fall and the participants then decide if they wish to leave the units in to collect winter data.
As the public becomes more sensitive to climate change issue and problems resulting from this change the data from this temperature monitoring program will become more useful in both advocacy and mitigation plans for watersheds. It is hoped that partnerships will be developed that will allow this program to expand throughout a greater area of Nova Scotia.
"David Melanson and Roland Leblanc look on as Lewis Hinks downloads data from a
temperature recorder that was in the Meteghan River. Data from this recorder and
others throughout Nova Scotia are used to assist in developing enhancement plans
for rivers and identify problem areas."