COLLEGE PARK, Md., April 8 (UPI) -- A study suggests water temperatures are increasing in many U.S. rivers and streams, including the Colorado, Potomac, Delaware and Hudson rivers.
The study -- led by a team of University of Maryland ecologists and hydrologists -- documents 20 major U.S. streams and rivers show statistically significant long-term warming that was typically correlated with increases in air temperatures. The researchers said rates of warming were most rapid in urbanized areas.
"Warming waters can impact the basic ecological processes taking place in our nation's rivers and streams," said Assistant Professor Sujay Kaushal of the university's Center for Environmental Science, the study's lead author. "Long-term temperature increases can impact aquatic biodiversity, biological productivity and the cycling of contaminants through the ecosystem."
The researchers said they found 20 of the 40 streams studied showed statistically significant long-term warming trends, while an additional 13 showed temperature increases that were not statistically significant. The longest record of increase was observed for the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and the most rapid rate of increase was recorded for the Delaware River near Chester, Pa.
"We are seeing the largest increases in the most highly urbanized areas, which lead us to believe that the one-two punch of development and global warming could have a tremendous impact on stream and river ecosystem health," Kaushal said.
The study is reported in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.