Guidelines for the Collection of Continuous Stream Water-Temperature Data in Alaska

Objectives of stream monitoring programs differ considerably among many of the academic, Federal, state, tribal, and non-profit organizations in the state of Alaska. Broad inclusion of stream-temperature monitoring can provide an opportunity for collaboration in the development of a statewide stream-temperature database. Statewide and regional coordination could reduce overall monitoring cost, while providing better analyses at multiple spatial and temporal scales to improve resource decision-making. Increased adoption of standardized protocols and data-quality standards may allow for validation of historical modeling efforts with better projection calibration. For records of stream water temperature to be generally consistent, unbiased, and reproducible, data must be collected and analyzed according to documented protocols. Collection of water-temperature data requires definition of data-quality objectives, good site selection, proper selection of instrumentation, proper installation of sensors, periodic site visits to maintain sensors and download data, pre- and post-deployment verification against an NIST-certified thermometer, potential data corrections, and proper documentation, review, and approval. A study created to develop a quality-assurance project plan, data-quality objectives, and a database management plan that includes procedures for data archiving and dissemination could provide a means to standardize a statewide stream-temperature database in Alaska. Protocols can be modified depending on desired accuracy or specific needs of data collected. This document is intended to guide users in collecting time series water-temperature data in Alaskan streams and draws extensively on the broader protocols already published by the U.S. Geological Survey.