NWT Locations / Green Lakes Valley...

Research Locations: Green Lakes Valley

Ownership: City of Boulder Watershed
Found within (2nd Order): Green Lakes Valley (City of Boulder Watershed)

(Click to learn more about these locations)

Green Lakes Valley Green Lakes Valley, looking west

Data From: Green Lakes Valley

Site Information:

  • Bounding Coordinates
  • Lower Left: 444838.29W, 4431993N
  • Upper Right: {lower_right}
  • Min Elevation: 3567m
  • Max Elevation: 4042m
  • Mean Elevation: 3745m


The GLV catchment is divided into an upper basin and a lower valley by a glaciated valley-step between Green Lakes 3 and 4.

The Upper Basin: An east-facing glacial valley, headed on the Continental Divide in the Colorado Front Range, the upper basin is approximately 225 ha in area with an elevation ranging from 4084 m at the
Continental Divide to 3515 m at the outlet of Green Lake 4. This section contains little vegetation, steep rock walls and talus slopes, a valley floor of glaciated bedrock, and many permanent snow patches, including Arikaree Glacier below the Continental Divide (Caine, 1995). Landcover type has been mapped in the field using expert knowledge in combination with the aerial photographs and a Digital Elevation Model (DEM). Bare rock makes up 29% of the basin area, talus 33%, vegetated soils 29%, the Arikaree glacier 4%; there are also two lakes in the upper basin, Green Lakes 4 and 5 (Erickson, 2004). Most of the surficial deposits are of Holocene age, accumulated since deglaciation about 12,000 years ago (Harbor, 1984).

The Lower Valley: Includes a 5 km2 area between Green Lake 4 and the former mining camp of Albion. This lower section has more extensive vegetation and soil cover, and less exposed bedrock than the upper basin.

Research and Setting:

The continental, high mountain climate of the GLV has been recorded continuously at the D-1 meteorological station on Niwot Ridge for over 60 years and for shorter periods on the valley floor (Greenland, 1989). Mean annual temperature at D-1 is -3.7°C (Williams, 1996). South-facing slopes are warmer than north-facing slopes, which are underlain by discontinuous permafrost (Ives,1973). Almost 80% of the approximately 1000 mm of recorded annual precipitation falls as snow (Caine, 1996). The bulk snow pack temperature remains below 0°C until late spring, introducing a lag in the hydrological cycle by concentrating the release of melt water in a short, intense period of runoff (Caine, 1996).


The lower section has more extensive vegetation and soil cover, and less exposed bedrock.

Land Use and habitat:

Protected. Alpine tundra, treeline ecotone, oligotrophic alpine lakes, high-elevation streams, and extensive forested areas with at-risk seasonal snowpacks and former mining camp of Albion..

Partner Groups: Boulder Creek CZO website INSTAAR

Associated Groups: City Of Boulder, BASIN, Boulder Areas Sustainability Information Network, The Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland,

View 3rd order GLV Green Lakes Valley in a larger map

CU Boulder

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement #DEB-1637686. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necesarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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