Lake O'Hara, BC

Location and Physical Characteristics

  • Located at the Continental Divide (51º21'30"N, 116º20'15"W) in Yoho National Park;
  • Elevation rage: 2000 - 3500 m;
  • 14 km2 drainage area above the outlet of Lake O'Hara;
  • Approximately 20% of the watershed is sub-alpine coniferous forest, and 80% is alpine (exposed bedrock, talus slopes, glacial moraine material, and very small amount of glacier ice cover);
  • Representative of alpine headwaters in the Canadian Rockies.


  • The research basin was established by the University of Calgary in 2004, with permission and assistance from Parks Canada;
  • Annual snow surveys at maximum accumulation have been carried out since 2006, sampling 1200-1500 depth points and 200-300 density measurements;
  • Intensive characterization of subsurface materials and structure by geophysical imaging.

Current Science Focus and Instrumentation

  • Research efforts are primarily led by Professor Masaki Hayashi and his research team at the University of Calgary;
  • Focused studies on snow hydrology, groundwater hydrology, stream-groundwater interaction, alpine permafrost, and glacier mass and energy balance;
  • Main research infrastructure includes: two weather stations, five stream gauging stations, and two lake water level stations.

For further information contact:

Professor Masaki Hayashi
Canada Research Chair in Physical Hydrology
Department of Geoscience
University of Calgary
2500 University Dr. NW
Calgary, Alberta, T2N 1N4, Canada