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.
- 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 projects and help us identify and track species within and near our monitoring locations.
- After creating an iNaturalist account, volunteers may join one of 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 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.
Note to participants: Some of the project locations need 50 observations until they have a georeferenced location within iNaturalist. For now, please refer to the coordinates listed with each project, as well as on this page, to get an idea of the project area. Further, please note that Talus Lakes may only be accessed via a guided hike with Talus Lake Backcountry Lodge.
Safety: Coordinates 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
- Macbeth Icefield Tarn and the inflow
- 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
See Heather's profile.
Donate to help us understand how alpine ecosystems and the water they supply are responding to climate change.
Status - Active
|LakesRivers, Creeks and StreamsSnow|
|British ColumbiaColumbia Basin|
|Community groupsConsultantGovernment – Provincial|
|Types of Work|
|Citizen ScienceCommunity Based MonitoringDataMonitoring|
News and Updates
- Tracking Climate Impacts on Vulnerable High Elevation Environments (pg. 50) – LakeLine Magazine, Spring 2023
- Mountain-Top Moments: Girls* On Ice – Wildsight, Sept 28 2022
- B.C.’s iconic Kokanee Glacier is melting and it can’t be saved – Lake Country Calendar, Nov 17 2022
- Help us with some citizen science on your next trip to Kokanee Glacier cabin – The Alpine Club of Canada, June 28 2022
- Kokanee Glacier can’t be saved – Nelson Star, Nov 17 2022
- High elevation creek biomonitoring for climate impacts – Living Lakes Canada, Oct 7 2022
- Getting up close and personal with Kokanee Glacier – Living Lakes Canada, Oct 7 2022
- High-elevation lake monitoring in Kokanee Glacier Park (pg. 27) – The Valley Voice, Sept 8 2022
- Monitoring climate change underway in Kokanee Glacier Park – Trail Times, Sept 5 2022
- High elevation monitoring kicks off in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park – The Trail Champion, Aug 30, 2022
- For a complete list of news features, visit our In The News page!