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Protecting Alaska's Cook Inlet watershed and the life it sustains since 1995.
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Stream Temperature Data Collection Standards and Protocol for Alaska

As Alaskans continue to feel the impacts of a changing climate, the need for resource managers to understand how these changes will alter aquatic systems and fisheries resources grows.  Water temperature data collection has increased in recent years to begin to fill our gaps in knowledge about current thermal profiles; however, with Alaska’s vast landscapes and ubiquitous freshwater habitats, the need for water temperature data is ongoing.  Many entities are collecting temperature data for a variety of purposes to meet project or agency specific goals.  Statewide interest in thermal patterns and increasing data collection efforts provides Alaska’s scientific and resource managing community an opportunity to meet broader regional-scale data needs.  Adopting minimum standards for data collection will ensure comparability of generated data.

Cook Inletkeeper and collaborators at the Alaska Natural Heritage Program, University of Alaska Anchorage have established minimum standards for stream temperature data collection to generate data useful for regional-scale analyses (see table below). By identifying minimum data standards, our objective is to encourage rapid, but structured, growth in comparable stream temperature monitoring efforts in Alaska that will be used to understand current and future trends in thermal regimes.

Stream Temperature Data Collection Standards and Protocol for Alaska was developed to help the reader understand our justification for selecting, and motivation for establishing, minimum standards for stream temperature data collection.  The protocol that follows provides detailed instructions on implementing these minimum standards. We hope that this project will encourage data collection efforts that will be useful for understanding current and future temperature trends in Alaska’s freshwater systems.

Download the full document here.

Minimum data collection standards for regional analysis of stream thermal regimes.

Data Logger



Measurement range

-4o to 37oC (24o to 99oF)

Data Collection

Sampling frequency

1 hour interval

Sampling period/duration

1 calendar month

Quality Assurance and Quality Control

Accuracy checks

water bath at two temperatures: 0oC and 20oC before and after field deployment to verify logger accuracy (varies ≤ 0.25oC compared with a NIST-certified thermometer)

Site selection

five measurements across the stream width to verify that the site is well-mixed (i.e. varies ≤ 0.25oC)

Data evaluation

remove erroneous data from the dataset

Data Storage

File formats

CSV format in 2 locations


unique site identifier

agency/organization name and contact

datum, latitude and longitude

sample frequency

stored with temperature data


quality-controlled hourly data

Support for this effort was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on behalf of the Western Alaska Landscape Conservation Cooperative.

You can learn more about water temperature monitoring efforts in Alaska at the Alaska Online Aquatic Temperature Site (AKOATS), which is a comprehensive statewide inventory of current and historic continuous monitoring locations for stream and lake temperature.