2. Marmot Creek Research Basin, AB

The Marmot Creek Research Basin, Kananaskis, AB (photo: Chris DeBeer)

Location and Physical Characteristics

  • Located in Rocky Mountain Front Ranges, in Kananaskis Country, AB;
    • Tributary to the Kananaskis and Bow Rivers;
    • Roughly 10 km2 area ranging from 1600 m to 2800 m; three tributary sub-basins of roughly equal area (Twin, Middle, Cabin Creeks);
  • Montane and subalpine forest cover, alpine tundra and talus/rock at higher elevation.


  • Established as research basin as part of the International Hydrological Decade in 1962 to study the hydrological effects of forest management;
    • Instrumented with several permanent meteorological stations, groundwater wells, snow pillows, and weirs/gauges on each tributary;
    • Experimental forest harvesting operations carried in in mid-1970s;
  • Research programme ended in 1986 for development of Nakiska Ski Resort (1988 Olympic Winter Games downhill venue); subsequent monitoring programme re-established in 2005 by Centre for Hydrology, University of Saskatchewan.

Current Science Focus and Instrumentation 

  • Research efforts here are led by Professor John Pomeroy of the University of Saskatchewan;
  • Focused studies on mountain snow processes, hydrochemistry, and hydrological modelling (including climate change sensitivity analysis, and hydro-climatic trends);
  • Instrumented with ten permanent meteorological stations at elevations from 1450 to 2500 m, covering variety of surface cover types and slope orientations;
    • Precipitation, snow depth, soil moisture, soil temperature, component radiation, air temperature/humidity, wind speed, turbulent fluxes of heat and water vapour;
    • Two 30 m instrumented towers (forest and clearing) with profile measurements and weighed hanging tree;
  • Streamflow gauge and weir operated by WSC at the basin outlet and temporary pressure transducers on each of three tributaries;
  • Half dozen groundwater wells in and adjacent to basin operated by AB government.

Other Resources and Further Information

For further information contact:

Professor John Pomeroy
Canada Research Chair in Water Resources & Climate Change
Centre for Hydrology,
University of Saskatchewan,
12 Kirk Hall, 117 Science Place,
Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5C8

Alpine Ridgetop station