Modelling spatiotemporal patterns of water quality and its impacts on aquatic ecosystem in the cold climate region of Alberta, Canada

Tesfa Worku Meshesha, Junye Wang, Nigus Demelash Melaku

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Cold climate regions offer various ecosystem services. The water quality parameters such as dissolved oxygen (DO), water temperature (Tw), and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) have considerable impacts on the aquatic ecosystem species. Any impairments in water quality such as elevated water temperature, and low DO concentrations can limit the survival of aquatic ecosystems and its species, such as walleye, northern pike and salmon. Therefore, a good understanding of the aquatic ecosystem of rivers is essential for effective and sustainable river basin and watershed management of fisheries and aquatic resources. The objectives of this study is to improve a watershed scale module of water quality (DO, DOC and Fecal coliforms (FC) in the SWAT model to examine the spatiotemporal patterns and their impacts on aquatic ecosystem and water quality processes in the Athabasca River Basin (ARB), Alberta, Canada. The calibration and validation results of DO, DOC and FC show that the improved Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model achieved successfully with a varied range (satisfactory to vey-good) of accuracy at the daily temporal scales. The results showed that concentrations of DO for the selected stations (spring and summer) reduced far below the thresholds for ecosystems survival. In concurrent reduction with DO, the FC concentration considerably varied in the different monitoring stations of ARB. These results highlight that DO, DOC and FC variability in the ARB may drive changes in water quality and ecosystem services that have to be understood on the specific research scale for designing adaptive management scenarios. This study reveals that the new SWAT model can be applied to other similar regions of the worlds.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124952
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - Aug. 2020


  • Dissolved organic carbon
  • Dissolved oxygen
  • Ecosystem
  • Fecal coliforms
  • SWAT model
  • Water quality


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