Buffered, lagged, or cooled? Disentangling hyporheic influences on temperature cycles in stream channels

Alicia S. Arrigoni, Geoffrey C. Poole, Leal A.K. Mertes, Scott J. O'Daniel, William W. Woessner, Steven A. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


We monitored summertime base flow water temperatures of hyporheic discharge to surface water in main, side, and spring channels located within the bank-full scour zone of the gravel- and cobble-bedded Umatilla River, Oregon, USA. Diel temperature cycles in hyporheic discharge were common, but spatially variable. Relative to the main channel's diel cycle, hyporheic discharge locations typically had similar daily mean temperatures, but smaller diel ranges (compressed by 2 to 6°C) and desynchronized phases (offset by 0 to 6 h). In spring channels (which received only hyporheic discharge), surface water diel cycles were also compressed (by 2 to 6°C) and desynchronized (by -4 to 6 h) relative to the main channel, creating diverse daytime and nighttime mosaics of surface water temperatures across main, side, and spring channels, despite only minor differences (<1°C) in daily mean temperatures among the channels. The river's hyporheic zone received and stored heat from the channel, yet hyporheic return flows carried heat back to the channel minutes to months after removal. Associated surface water temperature dynamics were therefore complex. Hyporheic discharge was not simply "cooler" or "warmer" than main channel water. Instead, instantaneous temperature differences between channel water and hyporheic discharge typically arose from diel temperature cycles in hyporheic discharge that were buffered and lagged relative to diel cycles in the main channel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberW09418
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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