High Elevation Monitoring Program

High Elevation Monitoring Program
High elevation ecosystems are especially sensitive to climate change. Research has found that temperatures at higher altitudes are increasing even more rapidly than at lower altitudes. As a result, high elevation ecosystems are more vulnerable and expected to experience climate impacts more rapidly than lower elevations, and there is a huge deficit of data in this area.

High Elevation Monitoring Program


Key Takeaways:

  1. 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.
  2. Monitoring parameters include biological, physical and chemical components of alpine lakes and streams, as well as vegetation and wildlife observations.
  3. Data will be shared on the Columbia Basin Water Hub and available for government, academia, Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, and the public.

PROGRAM SUMMARY

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.

For the 2022 pilot year, the focus area is Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park. 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.

Objectives:

  • 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 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 made by certified hydrologists, recreationalists, youth-led expeditions, 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. 

Measurements:

  • Lake and stream physiology: temperature, transparency, and bathymetry
  • Water chemistry: pH, specific conductivity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, nitrogen/phosphorus
  • Biological characteristics: algae, zooplankton, macroinvertebrates, fish species presence/absence

Citizen Science:

Citizen Science is an important component to the success of this program.

  • iNaturalist
    • After creating an iNaturalist account, volunteers join the Living Lakes Canada project: Kokanee Glacier - High Elevation Monitoring.
    • Volunteers take pictures of any flora and fauna spotted while recreating in the Kokanee Glacier area. 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 pictures/observations via iNaturalist to the project where they will be reviewed by scientists and the data stored.
    • Living Lakes Canada extracts this data and uploads it to the Columbia Basin Water Hub to make it easily accessible.

All the data collected will be shared on the Columbia Basin Water Hub.


PROGRAM TIMELINE

YEAR 1

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

YEAR 2

Year 2 will see the expansion of the project to include new areas once the pilot year has been completed and assessed. 


CONTACT

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: heather.shaw@livinglakescanada.ca

See Heather's profile.


DONATE

Donate to help us understand how alpine ecosystems and the water they supply are responding to climate change.

High Elevation Monitoring Program

Status - Active


Categories


Water Bodies
Snow
Regions
British ColumbiaColumbia Basin
Collaborators
Community groupsConsultantGovernment – Provincial
Types of Work
Citizen ScienceCommunity Based MonitoringDataMonitoring

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Funders & Contributors


Province of British Columbia Alpine Club of Canada