When Sue Mauger, a stream ecologist with Cook InletKeeper, came to Alaska and took her first water temperature reading on the Anchor River, she thought she knew what she would find.

It's Alaska, after all, the land of glaciers and polar bears. Lo and behold, though — the water wasn't cold.

"I didn't know if maybe I was just a little bit clueless, because I had assumed that, in Alaska, salmon streams were going to be very cold. And I would throw my thermometer in there and they would be in the 50s, high 50s, heading toward 60, and that just surprised me," she said. "So finally, in 2002, I decided, 'All right, I need to figure out how warm these systems really are."

Thus began a project of gathering five years of temperature data on 48 nonglacial streams throughout the Cook Inlet watershed. Mauger presented her findings at the Kenai Change conference on the developing effects of climate change on the Kenai Peninsula, held Saturday at Kenai Peninsula College's Kenai River Campus.

The results of Mauger's stream temperature monitoring project paint a picture that is increasingly chilling for salmon as the forecasted climate trend continues warming.

"And what I found was that, yes, we do actually have salmon-bearing systems in Alaska that are warm, and that are at temperatures that are stressful to salmon," she said.

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