Alpine streams and lakes are the headwaters of mountain rivers providing water supply for the majority of population in Prairie Provinces, and estimated 40% of world's population.
Except during 2-3 months of snowmelt period, groundwater is the main source of water to alpine streams and lakes. For example, the beautiful Lake O'Hara in Yoho National Park (photo) receives as much as 50% of water input by groundwater. Because groundwater is 'hidden' from our eyes, the role of groundwater in alpine environments received little scientific attention until recently. Our studies over the past two decades have shown that alpine watersheds have many aquifers, which store melt waters from snowpack and glacier and slowly release it over many months. Therefore, alpine aquifers can serve as a 'buffer' against hydrological impacts of climate change.
Working with our colleagues across Canada and around the world, we are conducting a long-term research on alpine hydrogeology with a goal of understanding alpine groundwater systems and developing numerical algorithms to represent alpine aquifers in large-scale hydrological models.
This study is conducted as part of Mountain Water Futures program.