The Canadian Rockies Hydrological Observatory

Please note - Near real-time data by telemetry from CRHO stations are now available, here

This is a major project by the Centre for Hydrology and partner organizations to improve understanding and prediction of hydrometeorological and cryospheric phenomena in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It aims to

  • Advance development and integration of information on how hydrological and cryospheric processes interact to form streamflow
  • Develop and run hydrological models to produce water resource predictions for past and future climates.

Principal Research Questions:

  1. How do mountain basin biophysical characteristics affect snow and ice systems to produce hydrological responses to precipitation and energy inputs on time scales from hours to centuries?
  2. Do cold regions mountain hydrological systems enhance or dampen the effects of climate variability on water resources?
  3. Are the Canadian Rocky Mountains a reliable future source of streamflow?

More details are provided on this page, and in the following presentations:

Primary Research Team:

  • John Pomeroy, Geography and Planning (www)
  • Warren Helgason, Biological and Chemical Engineering (www)
  • Cherie Westbrook, Geography and Planning (www)


  • Greg Galloway
  • Angus Duncan


  • Parks Canada, Banff
  • Alberta Parks, Kananaskis
  • Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Edmonton
  • Mike Demuth, National Glaciological Program, NRCAN
  • Dr Alain Pietroniro, Water and Climate Services, Environment Canada
  • Dr Melissa Lafrenier, Queenís University
  • Dr Scott Munro, University of Toronto
  • Alpine Club of Canada

Key Initiatives:

  • Installation of 10 new high altitude hydrometeorological stations, and 5 new high-altitude stream gauge stations in nested basins
  • Deployment of Cryoflyux portable detailed measurement system
  • WISKI/CRHM: data management, information assimilation and water modelling system
  • Studies of snow and glacier hydrology, boundary layers, treeline ecohydrology, climate modelling, snow physics
  • Operation of 35 stations in Kananskis Country: 22 meteorological , 5 groundwater, 8 hydrometric
  • Operation of 15 stations in Banff National Park: 8 meteorological , 7 hydrometric

Principal Objectives:

  1. Improve understanding and description of governing processes for mountain water supply
    • Snow and glacier cold regions processes
    • Ecohydrological processes
    • Sub-surface processes
  2. Improve modelling of mountain hydrological systems
    • Small scale distributed physically based simulations
    • Moderate scale headwater catchment models
    • Large scale river basin and continental models
  3. Use better observations and modelling to improve predictions of mountain water supply
    • Downscale current meteorology and future climate to drive cold regions hydrology in the light of concurrent ecohydrological dynamics
    • Predict hydrological cycling and quantify uncertainty in these calculations in ungauged mountain basins
    • Improve the coupling of the sub-surface flow system to the surface / atmosphere system


  • Climate change impact
    (Pomeroy, Fang, Rasouli, Sandford, Whitfield)
  • Forest change impact
    (Pomeroy, Harder, Fang; Musselman)
  • Historical hydroclimatology
    (Pomeroy, Harder, Siemens, Whitfield, Shook)
  • Improved multiscale modelling
    (Pomeroy, Wheater, Ireson, Helgason, Brown, Musselman, Conway, Marsh, Lv, Rasouli)
  • Glacier hydrology
    (Pomeroy, Demuth, Pradhananga, Conway, Musselman, Anderson)
  • Turbulent transfer to snow
    (Helgason, Conway, MacDonald)
  • Ecohydrology of forest edges
    (Pomeroy, Musselman)
  • Chinooks
    (Pomeroy, Essery, MacDonald)
  • Snow measurements
    (Pomeroy, Kinar, Guan, Duncan)
  • Wetland dynamics
    (Westbrook, graduate student)
  • Groundwater-surface interactions
    (Ireson, Janzen)
  • Coupled modelling: surface, sub-surface, atmosphere
Figure 1: Upper Bow River Basin – showing segments above Kananaskis and the Kananaskis River.


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University of Saskatchewan
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