Model:River Temperature Model


River Temperature Model


Also known as River Temperature
Model type Single
Model part of larger framework permafrost toolbox
Note on status model
Date note status model
Incorporated models or components:
Spatial dimensions 1D, 1.5D
Spatial extent Reach-Scale
Model domain Terrestrial, Hydrology
One-line model description River Temperature Model based on heat balance approach
Extended model description The river water temperature model is designed to be applied in Arctic rivers. Heat energy transfers considered include surface net solar radiation, net longwave radiation, latent heat due to evaporation and condensation, convective heat and the riverbed heat flux. The model is explicitly designed to interact with a permafrost channelbed and frozen conditions through seasonal cycles. In addition to the heat budget, river discharge, or stage, drives the model.

permafrost, river discharge, river,

Name Irina Overeem
Type of contact Project manager
Institute / Organization University of Colorado
Postal address 1 4001 Discovery DR
Postal address 2
Town / City Boulder
Postal code 80303
State Colorado
Country United States
Email address

Name Lei Zheng
Type of contact Model developer
Institute / Organization Wuhan University
Postal address 1
Postal address 2
Town / City
Postal code
Country China
Email address

Supported platforms
Mac OS
Other platform
Programming language

Python, Matlab

Other program language
Code optimized Single Processor
Multiple processors implemented
Nr of distributed processors
Nr of shared processors
Start year development 2018
Does model development still take place? Yes
If above answer is no, provide end year model development
Code development status Active
When did you indicate the 'code development status'? 2020
Model availability As code
Source code availability
(Or provide future intension)
Through web repository
Source web address
Source csdms web address
Program license type GPL v3
Program license type other
Memory requirements
Typical run time

Describe input parameters climatology
Input format ASCII
Other input format mfile.txt
Describe output parameters daily river temperature
Output format ASCII
Other output format
Pre-processing software needed? No
Describe pre-processing software
Post-processing software needed? No
Describe post-processing software
Visualization software needed? No
If above answer is yes
Other visualization software

Describe processes represented by the model [[Describe processes::River temp is a one-dimensional heat-balance model to simulate water temperature driven by atmospheric and hydrologic observations. Heat fluxes considered in the model include: net surface shortwave solar radiation, net longwave radiation, latent heat due to evaporation and condensation, convective heat, and riverbed heat flux following [Hebert et al., 2011].]]
Describe key physical parameters and equations [[Describe key physical parameters::Surface net solar radiation at the water surface is expressed as the direct solar irradiance penetrating the water surface, i.e., the difference between incoming solar radiation and reflected solar radiation, taking into account albedo of the river water.

Longwave radiation includes the radiation emitted by the atmosphere, water surface, and vegetation. We assume the vegetation canopy effect is negligible for the Arctic river floodplains. Net longwave radiation at the water surface is then the difference between atmospheric downward longwave radiation and the longwave radiation emitted from the water surface.

Latent heat Hl contributed by evaporation or condensation at the air-water interface can be expressed by the following equation [Hebert et al., 2011]. 

The heat flux between river water and the riverbed is potentially a significant control on water temperature, especially in shallow rivers, and perhaps even more so in rivers in permafrost terrain. Riverbed heat flux consists of the amount of solar radiation absorbed by the bed material and the thermal conduction into the riverbed [Webb & Zhang, 1997]]]

Describe length scale and resolution constraints Model is 1D, we have used it over a x-section of a floodplain with varying flood inundation depth and durations.
Describe time scale and resolution constraints Daily timesteps
Describe any numerical limitations and issues

Describe available calibration data sets Tested against river temperature observations of the Kuparuk river on the North Slope of Alaska (described in Zheng et al., 2019).
Upload calibration data sets if available:
Describe available test data sets water temperature measurements over summer seasons of 2014-2016
Upload test data sets if available:
Describe ideal data for testing

Do you have current or future plans for collaborating with other researchers? We intent to apply this model to the Canning River, AK with collaborators of the USGS/Alaska Science Center.
Is there a manual available? No
Upload manual if available:
Model website if any
Model forum / discussion board
Comments Zheng, L., Overeem, I., Wang, K., Clow, G., (2019). Changing Arctic River Dynamics Cause Localized Permafrost Thaw, Journal of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface.

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OpenMI compliant
BMI compliant No but possible
WMT component No not possible
PyMT component No but possible
Is this a data component
DOI model
For model version
Year version submitted
Link to file
Can be coupled with:


Model info
Nr. of publications: --
Total citations: 0
h-index: --"--" is not a number.
m-quotient: 0

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Nr. of publications: --
Total citations: 0
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m-quotient: 0

Featured publication(s)YearModel describedType of ReferenceCitations
Zheng, Lei; Overeem, Irina; Wang, Kang; Clow, Gary D.; 2019. Changing Arctic River Dynamics Cause Localized Permafrost Thaw. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 124, 2324–2344. 10.1029/2019JF005060
(View/edit entry)
2019 CVPM
River Temperature Model
Related theory 17
See more publications of River Temperature Model



Input Files

Output Files