EGU23-7683, updated on 27 Apr 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Evolution of discharge and stream temperature from past to future in a large European River basin

Florentina Moatar1, Hanieh Seyedhashemi1, Jean-Philippe Vidal1, Jacob Diamond1, Dominique Thiery2, Frédéric Hendrickx3, and Anthony Maire3
Florentina Moatar et al.
  • 1INRAE, RiverLy, Centre Lyon-Grenoble, France (
  • 2BRGM, Orléans, France
  • 3EDF, Recherche et developpement, LNHE, Chatou, France

Both discharge (Q) and stream temperature (Tw) are the key factors affecting water quality and the suitability of instream habitats, which are expected to experience substantial evolutions due to climate change. However, the absence of continuous and long-term data of Tw at a large scale limits our understanding of the spatio-temporal variations of Tw and their control factors, like riparian vegetation, strahler order, hydroclimate.

The present study used a physically-based thermal model (T-NET), coupled with a semi-distributed hydrological model (EROS) using SAFRAN meteorological reanalysis data provided of Météo-France to reconstruct past daily Q and Tw over the 1963-2019 period for 52 000 hydrographic reaches of the Loire basin (100 000 km²), France. Three regionalized climate projections under several future emissions scenarios (available on the DRIAS portal: were used to project future daily time series of these variables over the 2005-2100 period.

The results over the 1963-2019 period showed that the increase of the Tw was higher than those air temperature (Ta) in spring, summer and autumn for the majority of the reaches of the basin. Indeed, Tw increased for almost all reaches and all seasons (average = +0.38°C/decade) with the largest increase in the spring (Mar-May) (range=+0.11 to +0.76°C per decade) and in summer (Jun-Aug) (+0.08 to +1.02°C per decade). Highest spring and summer increases were generally found in the south of the basin (Massif Central and Limousin plateau) and in higher Strahler order where a larger increase in Ta (up to 0.67 °C/decade) and a larger decrease in Q (up to -16%/decade) occurred jointly.  

Depending on climate models, scenarios and seasons,future projections showed changes in seasonal flow and water temperature. Seasonal median flow over the basin would be between -40% and +35% for the middle of the 21st century (2040-2079) compared to the 1990-2019 period. For the end of the century (2070-2099), flow change would be between -53% and +73%. A clear increase in future Tw was also found with seasonal  median increases of +0.7 to +2.7°C in the middle (2040-2079) and of +0.8°C to +5.0°C,  at the end of the century (2070-2099).

These climate-induced changes in Q and Tw could help us to explain shifts in the phenology and geographical distribution of cold-water species. Moreover, they highlight that we should take vital actions for both adaptation and mitigation strategies. In this regard, we found that some of these climate change-induced impacts on Tw can be mitigated through the restoration and maintenance of riparian shading specially in small streams.

How to cite: Moatar, F., Seyedhashemi, H., Vidal, J.-P., Diamond, J., Thiery, D., Hendrickx, F., and Maire, A.: Evolution of discharge and stream temperature from past to future in a large European River basin, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-7683,, 2023.