It is expected that climate change will have an impact on the water budget of high elevation drainage basins in Northern BC. Permafrost is likely to thaw in some areas, glaciers will recede, and precipitation is likely to increase due to the increased water holding capacity of warmer air. The Cariboo Alpine Mesonet (CAMnet) was constructed as part of a research project undertaken by the Northern Hydrometeorology Group at University of Northern British Columbia (in Prince George, BC) to create a long term climatological record for the Quesnel River drainage basin. These data will be analyzed along with river flow data to construct a water budget for the Quesnel River drainage basin, and facilitate the observation of long term low frequency trends.
The Cariboo Alpine Mesonet (CAMnet) is currently a network 6 of meteorological stations and one repeater station installed at high elevation sites within the Quesnel River drainage basin and surrounding Cariboo Mountains of central British Columbia. Stations were installed at Spanish Mountain (elevation 1509 m), Browntop Mountain (elevation 2030 m), Mt. Tom (elevation 1490 m), Castle Creek Glacier (elevations of 1810 m and 2105 m) and Quesnel River Research Centre (QRRC; elevation 743 m). A map of the stations can be found here. All of the remote stations record wind speed, wind direction, precipitation, air temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, soil temperature, and snow depth. The station at QRRC is also equipped to collect solar radiation data (incoming and outgoing shortwave and longwave radiation), and utilizes a sonic anemometer to measure wind speed and direction. In addition, the station that was recently deployed at Castle Creek Glacier in 2008 is equipped to measure incoming solar radiation as well as take readings of surface temperatures using an infrared temperature sensor.
The remote station sites were installed in a straight line with a north/south orientation, while the QRRC station is located about 10 km to the west. Site selection for the remote stations was a difficult and time consuming process. All the remote stations were to be installed at elevations higher than 1500 m, have line-of-sight with QRRC or the site of the repeater station, and be within a 30 km radius of QRRC. Prospective areas were thoroughly explored using a 4x4, and locations of possible sites were recorded using a GPS in order to verify line-of-sight, and elevations.
The Spanish Mountain station was installed in an old cut block on a slightly west facing slope. Vegetation consists of pine trees with an average height of about 3 m, shrubs and grasses. There is 70-80% sky visible at the Spanish Mountain station, and the site is easily accessible by 4x4. The Blackbear Mountain station was set up in a more recent cut block, at the summit of Blackbear Mountain. Vegetation consists of small pines less than 1 m tall, shrubs and grasses. There is about 80% of the sky visible at the Blackbear Mountain station, and the site can only be accessed with a quad or large 4x4. The Browntop Mountain station was installed at the summit of Browntop Mountain. The site is located in an alpine area above the tree line so vegetation is sparse, and consists of small shrubs, lichens and grasses.
The QRRC station was installed at a site near the Quesnel River, 2 km northwest of Likely BC. Dominant vegetation is cedar and fir trees, shrubs and grasses. There is about 60% sky visible at the site, and since it is located at QRRC, accessibility is easy. The station at Mt. Tom is located within the B.C. Ministry of Forests (MoF) Mt Tom Adaptive Management Trial (MTAMT) area, within the Willow River basin in the Southern Interior hydrological zone. Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir are the predominant tree species in this area. The station was installed in a recent cut block and is easily accessed by 4x4.
The two most recently deployed stations are located at Castle Creek Glacier which is about 30 km SW of McBride, along the Castle Creek River. One station is sited on a bed rock ridge (el. 2105 m) on the SE side of Castle Glacier and the other is sited near the glacier forefield (el. 1810 m). Access to these sites is difficult on foot, requiring a 3-4 hour trek up from the Castle Creek valley, and 5-7 hours from the South Dore road. Therefore, it is recommended to access this site via helicopter with pick-up at the end of Castle Creek road.
For more information on CAMnet, read the technical report or please contact
Stephen Déry at