Research Facilities

Marmot Creek Research Basin

Marmot Creek Research Basin was established as an experimental basin in 1962 by the Governments of Canada and Alberta, as part of the International Hydrological Decade. It became an outdoor research laboratory to investigate the principles of mountain hydrology and the influences of forest management on streamflow generation, under the leadership of the Canadian Forestry Service. This program was closed down in 1986, on development of the Nakiska Ski Resort.

In 2005, the basin was reactivated by the University of Saskatchewan, University of Calgary and Environment Canada: since then it has supported a wide variety of research in process hydrology, climatology, ecohydrology and hydrological modelling, underpinning the next generation of models and forest-management strategies.

The Coldwater Laboratory was established in 2009 at the nearby University of Calgary Barrier Lake Field Station, to maintain and develop research momentum in the basin. With its long-term records of high altitude streamflow, precipitation, snowpack, groundwater, vegetation and mountain meteorology observations, it continues to provide a unique asset to support the improved understanding of environmental change in the Canadian Rockies. Projects currently focus on mountain snow processes, hydrochemistry, hydrological and hydrogeological modelling (including analysis of hydro-climatic trends and sensitivity to climate change), and the hydrological impacts of changes in forest cover.

To mark 50 years since the basin's establishment, a workshop was held in February, 2013, with the participation of a wide range of contributors to its research activities over this time: full details of speakers and their presentations are available from the link below.

In December 2016 the Coldwater Laboratory moved its main office to #116A, 1151 Sidney Street, Canmore, AB

Hydrometeorological Stations

Marmot Creek, a tributary to the Kananaskis and Bow river systems, runs through a classic headwater catchment in the Rocky Mountain front ranges, at elevations between 1450 and 2886m above sea-level. The basin, which is approximately 10km² in area, encompasses high alpine, sub-alpine and montane terrain, ranging from bare rock and talus, through tundra and sub-alpine to dense forest. It receives more than 600mm of precipitation annually, 70% of which falls as snow, with 50% runoff.

The basin is instrumented with permanent Automatic Weather Stations in a range of elevations, surface types, slopes / aspects, a network of groundwater wells, and streamflow gauges.

Measurements of snowfall and rainfall, evaporation, soil moisture, soil freezing, snowmelt, radiation, wind speed, air temperature and humidity, and surface temperatures are taken every 15 minutes at these sites. Many are provided in near real-time here.

    Lat / Long UTM 11U Elevation
Site Type °N °W E N m a.s.l.
Fisera Ridge Main AWS
50.95683
115.2044
626107
5646559
2325
Fisera Ridge North Face AWS
50.95696
115.2055
626033
5646572
2326
Fisera Ridge South Face AWS
50.95601
115.2041
626133
5646469
2320
Nakiska Alpine Ridgetop AWS
50.94472
115.1937
626896
5645231
2468
Pine Clearing, Level (Hay Meadow) AWS
50.94411
115.1389
630742
5645259
1437
Pine Clearing, South-Sloping AWS
50.94808
115.1516
629840
5645678
1557
Pine Forest, Level AWS
50.94656
115.1464
630211
5645518
1557
Pine Forest, North-Sloping AWS
50.94793
115.1458
630248
5645671
1467
Pine Forest, South-Sloping AWS
50.9481
115.1515
629847
5645680
1552
Spruce Clearing, Level: 2m Tower (Upper Clearing) AWS
50.95654
115.1754
628150
5646577
1845
Spruce Clearing, Level: Tower AWS
50.95654
115.1754
628150
5646577
1845
Spruce Forest, Level (Upper Forest) AWS
50.95688
115.1762
628088
5646613
1891
Spruce Forest, North-Sloping AWS
50.95236
115.1915
627030
5646084
2037
Spruce Forest, South-Sloping AWS
50.9529
115.1908
627074
5646146
2008
Vista View Clearcut AWS
50.97094
115.1722
628332
5648184
1956
Marmot Creek WSC Gauge Stream Gauge
50.9503
115.1528
629753
5645920
1587