High Elevation Monitoring Program
High Elevation Monitoring Program
- The aim of this program is to generate data on high elevation ecosystems, and establish long term monitoring which may be used to identify climate impacts, and better understand their effects on these sensitive areas.
- Monitoring parameters include biological, physical and chemical components of alpine lakes and streams, as well as vegetation and wildlife observations. The program also hosts a citizen science project on iNaturalist.
- Data will be shared on the Columbia Basin Water Hub and available for government, academia, Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, and the public.
High elevation ecosystems, also referred to as alpine ecosystems, are fragile environments that are especially sensitive to change. They have been referred to as sentinels of change. Temperatures at higher altitudes are accelerating at a faster rate than at lower altitudes. As a result, high elevation ecosystems are more vulnerable and expected to experience climate impacts more rapidly than lower elevations. There is an urgency to start collecting data as many high elevation areas have not been actively monitored.
The aim of this program is to establish long term monitoring and generate data on high elevation ecosystems that will assist in development of watershed management solutions. The results will be used to identify climate change driven impacts and quantify their effects on these sensitive areas. Water quality and quantity are variables that will be analyzed as they are important for all biological communities, including our own.
Data will be shared on the Columbia Basin Water Hub and available for government, academia, Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, and the public.
We are excited to partner with the Alpine Club of Canada for the citizen science data collection component of this program.
HOW THE PROGRAM WORKS
High elevation ecosystems are important indicators of watershed condition. If we are to understand how to best manage our water and watersheds for the future and if our communities are to become climate resilient, we need to take action now.
- To establish high elevation monitoring locations for ongoing, year-on-year data collection.
- To determine the natural variation and long term trends in selected physical, chemical, and biological water quality parameters on high elevation lakes and streams.
- To foster water stewardship with a broader cross-section of the public, helping them to understand climate change impacts on the health of our alpine environments and watersheds
- Monitoring will be performed by certified technicians, recreationalists, alpine enthusiasts and Living Lakes Canada staff.
- The goal is to expand the program geographically to include high elevation regions within British Columbia and Alberta.
- Lake and stream physiology: temperature, transparency, and bathymetry
- Water chemistry: pH, specific conductivity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, nitrogen, phosphorus, Fluorescent Dissolved Organic Matter (FDOM), Total Algae
- Biological characteristics: algae, zooplankton, macroinvertebrates
Join our iNaturalist project: High Elevation Monitoring Program - Living Lakes Canada and help us identify and track species within the following monitoring locations:
- Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park
- Talus Lakes
- Fletcher Lakes
- Fishermaiden Lake
- Macbeth Icefields
- Shannon Lake
- Ben Hur Lake
How to use iNaturalist
- After creating an iNaturalist account, volunteers can join the Living Lakes Canada - High Elevation Monitoring Projects.
- Simply search High Elevation Monitoring on the app and a list of the projects will appear.
- Volunteers take pictures of any flora and fauna spotted while recreating within the project areas. This will create an inventory of plant and animal species. A specific location will be recorded automatically as well as the image.
- When back in cell service, volunteers can upload their photos/observations via iNaturalist. The photos will be automatically added to a project based on geographic location. Scientists and the iNaturalist community will confirm species identifications and the data will be stored on the iNaturalist database.
- Living Lakes Canada extracts this data and uploads it to the Columbia Basin Water Hub to make it easily accessible.
Please note that Talus Lakes may only be accessed via a guided hike with Talus Lake Backcountry Lodge.
Safety: Coordinates listed on the iNaturalist project pages are to provide project members with an idea of the project location. Please follow designated trails and respect flora and fauna while taking photos.
Year 1 of the High Elevation Monitoring project is focused on the following water bodies near Kokanee Glacier, within the Columbia Basin Watershed:
- Lemon Creek
- Silverton Creek
- Joker Lakes
- Sapphire Lake
- Tanal Lake
- Shannon Lake
The High Elevation Monitoring Program is expanding in 2023 and will see the addition of the following monitoring sites:
- Fishermaiden Lake and the inflow (upper reach of Silverton Creek)
- Talus Lakes - Two lakes south of Assiniboine
- Ben Hur Lake and the inflow
- Upper Fletcher Lake and the inflow
- Upper Enterprise Creek
Due to the technical nature of accessing Upper Joker Lake, monitoring sites will be moved to a more accessible area near Talus Lodge, B.C. in 2023.
We are encouraging anyone interested in understanding the health of their high elevation ecosystems to contact the Program Manager, Heather Shaw. There are multiple levels of possible participation.
If you are interested in collaborating to support the understanding the health of Canada’s high elevation ecosystems please email Heather at: email@example.com
Donate to help us understand how alpine ecosystems and the water they supply are responding to climate change.
News and Updates
Living Lakes Canada: Tracking Climate Impacts on Alpine Freshwater Systems (pg. 20) – Alpine Club of Canada’s State of the Mountains Report, Oct 2023
A changing landscape: High elevation fieldwork at Talus Lodge – Backcountry Lodges of B.C., Aug 29 2023
A Changing Landscape: High Elevation Fieldwork at Talus Lodge – Alpine Club of Canada, Aug 16 2023
Tracking Climate Impacts on Vulnerable High Elevation Environments (pg. 50) – LakeLine Magazine, Spring 2023
Below the surface of Lemon Creek (pg. 21) – Valley Voice, June 29 2023
B.C.’s iconic Kokanee Glacier is melting and it can’t be saved – Lake Country Calendar, Nov 17 2022
For a complete list of news features, visit our In The News page!