Water temperature (changed from natural)

City skyline Water temperature regulates ecosystem function both directly through physiological effects on organisms, and indirectly, as a consequence of habitat loss. Unnatural changes in water temperature impact indirectly upon biota through loss of supporting habitat such as coral reefs, by changing the solubility of oxygen and calcium carbonate in water and by influencing the extent to which metal contaminants and other toxicants are assimilated by physiological processes. Temperature is also probably the most important factor influencing viral persistence in estuarine environments.

Residence times/flushing rates/dilution efficiency are natural mediating factors which influence the impact of altered water temperature on the ecosystem.

Potential indicators

There are a number of causes and symptoms related to this stressor. The following indicators are recommended for the stressor ‘Water temperature’:

Pressure indicators

Indicators of ‘hot/cold’ water sources:

Indicators of direct pressure:

  • Volume and temperature differential of discharge

Vulnerability indicators

Condition indicators

Physical-chemical condition indicators:

Biological condition indicators:

  • None
Possible causes Possible symptoms
The actions/events/situations that might induce this stress The actions/events/situations that might arise from a change to the stressor:

Fact sheets on background science and economics

Other information on water temperature


Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMStat) is designed to share surface and ground water quality data sets collected from the GEMS/Water Global Network, including over 1,400 stations, two million records, and over 100 parameters.


Sea Surface Temperature Maps of Australia.

Australian Natural Resources Atlas. One of the key information delivery mechanisms for the National Land and Water Resources Audit. Search the Australian Natural Resource Atlas for information about surface water quality monitoring programs in Australia.

Interactive maps. Sea surface temperature data are available in the OzEstuaries maps.

Remote data stations – weather and oceanographic buoys. The Australian Institute of Marine Science operates and maintains a series of remote data stations situated on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland and Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia.

ACT Waterwatch.The Waterwatch database program allows you to enter your Waterwatch data and store it as a record or file; develop graphs and produce short reports about your data; and perform simple analyses on the Waterwatch data you have collected from your catchment. It can be downloaded from this site.

New South Wales

NSW Coast Sea Surface Temperatures This site has the latest NSW Coast Satellite Image, Latest Offshore Sydney Sea Surface Temperature, Latest Offshore Byron Bay Sea Surface Temperature and the Latest Offshore Batemans Bay Sea Surface Temperature ( Manly Hydraulics Laboratory ).

NSW Natural Resource Atlas. The Natural Resource Atlas is the New South Wales portal to maps and data for environmental management, planning, research and education.

Streamwatch – Australian Museum. This site has water quality data available from different regions throughout New South Wales are available for most Streamwatch sites.

Waterwatch NSW. Choose a Waterwatch site from an interactive map of New South Wales. Water quality data are available for most Waterwatch sites.


Brisbane River Automated Monitoring. Here you can view the latest water quality for three locations in the Brisbane River. Daily water temperature data can be viewed on graphs.

Great Barrier Reef — sea temperature monitoring. Data are obtained from in-situ data loggers deployed on the reef. Data loggers instantaneously record sea temperatures every 30 minutes and are downloaded every 6 to 12 months, depending on the site. These data can be downloaded from this site.

Watershed. This web site provides access to gauging station information, streamflow data summaries and chemical analyses of water samples from the surface water data archive.

Waterwatch Gold Coast. This site provides some water quality temperature data from the Waterwatch program from a number of creeks in the Gold Coast Region.

South Australia

South Australia Surface Water Archive contains a wide variety of data collected at surface water monitoring sites across the State.


Water Information Resources & Electronic Data (WIRED) is a joint State and Federally funded system providing on-line access to a range of water information products including water management policies, current river levels and flows, catchment reports, and data summaries for individual sampling/flow sites.


Port Phillip Bay — sea surface temperatures. This site provides a six-day mean sea surface temperature graph for Port Phillip Bay.

Water Measurement Information System. This site combines data from a number of community and scientific based monitoring programs into one easily accessible resource.



The Catchment Modelling Toolkit is a repository of software and supporting documentation intended to improve the efficiency and standard of catchment modelling.

Dynamic Reservoir Simulation Model (DYRESM) is a one-dimensional hydrodynamics model for predicting the vertical distribution of temperature, salinity and density in lakes and reservoirs. It can be downloaded as freeware on this page.


HeatSource — Stream Temperature Simulation Model.

rTemp A simple model to predict a time-series of water temperatures in response to heat fluxes determined by meteorological data, groundwater inflow, hyporheic exchange, and conduction between the water and sediment. It can be downloaded from this site.

SNTEMP – Stream Network and Stream Segment Temperature Models Software SNTEMP is a mechanistic, one-dimensional heat transport model that predicts the daily mean and maximum water temperatures as a function of stream distance and environmental heat flux. SNTEMP was developed to help aquatic biologists and engineers predict the consequences of stream manipulation on water temperatures.

USGS Hydrologic and Geochemical Models USGS models are widely used to predict responses of hydrologic systems to changing stresses, such as increases in precipitation or ground-water pumping rates, as well as to predict the fate and movement of solutes and contaminants in water.