14. Baker Creek, NWT

Aerial view over part of the Baker Creek basin (Photo: Chris Spence)

Location and Physical Characteristics

  • Baker Creek is located just a few kilometers north of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (62°35'N, 114°26'W), with a draining area of about 150 km2;
  • Stream network characterized by lakes connected by short channels;
  • Landscape is predominantly exposed bedrock, open black spruce forest, lakes, and bogs, fens, and peat plateaus;
  • Basin is in the zone of discontinuous permafrost;
  • 1971-2000 climate (Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC), Yellowknife A) is characterized by cool, short summers with average July and January temperatures of 17 °C and -27 °C, respectively;
  • Annual total precipitation is on average 281 mm, with 42% falling as snow.


  • The research basin was established to support the Mackenzie GEWEX Study (MAGS II), and has since been used as a research platform for the IP3 Network, and CCRN; (Students from the University of Saskatchewan and Carleton University have worked here);
  • Baker Creek has also been used as part of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada's (AANDC) cumulative impacts monitoring programme;
  • Agency support has come from Environment Canada, AANDC, and Natural Resources Canada.

Current Science Focus and Instrumentation

  • Research focus is mainly on runoff processes and storage dynamics involving lakes, exposed bedrock, soil-covered hillslopes, and wetlands;
  • Long-term monitoring in or near Baker Creek includes MSC station at Yellowknife A and a Water Survey of Canada (WSC) gauge on Baker Creek at the outlet of Lower Martin Lake;
  • Basin is instrumented in a nested fashion so as to build long term records at six additional hydrometric gauges on key tributaries;
    • six wells and soil moisture and temperature nests in representative soils columns;
    • one deep (<10 m) ground thermistor string;
    • five climate towers (one with turbulent flux sensors); and,
    • five water chemistry stations.
  • The basin has been flown with LiDAR, and a 1 m horizontal resolution DEM exists, and land cover distribution was determined with SPOT 5 imagery in 2009.   

Other Resources and Further Information

For further information contact:

Chris Spence, Ph.D.
Research Scientist
Environment Canada
National Hydrology Research Centre,
11 Innovation Boulevard
Saskatoon SK  S7N 3H5 Canada


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