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MESH - A Community Hydrology - Land Surface Model

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General Information

Basin/Domain name

Fraser River Basin


British Columbia (CA)

Last updated

January 2021

Basin Overview

The snow-dominated Fraser River basin (FRB) of British Columbia (BC) is one of the largest and most important watersheds of Western North America (Figure 1). The FRB basin covers around 240,000 km2, spans one-fourth of BC, and thus forms the greatest salmon rivers with important environmental, economic, and cultural value (Islam et al., 2017). This watershed drains 11 different biogeoclimatic zones, from dry interior plateaus to wet, snowy mountains in its headwaters of the northern Rockies, the Columbia and Coast Mountains and thus integrates a diverse mosaic of landscapes, weather, and climate (Kang et al., 2014). The Basin has a population of 3 million people, nearly two-thirds of all British Columbians. First Nations communities were the first to recognize its special nature and enjoy its bounty. The evidence of Archeology shows oral traditions that the ancestors of First Nations people have inhibited beside the river since the vast glaciers started receding 10,000 years ago and the Fraser River, as we know it, was born (Fraser Basin Council - About the Fraser Basin, 2021).

Some studies report that climate change has affected the FRB’s hydrologic regime during the 20th and early 21st centuries, influencing its economic vitality and pristine landscapes (Déry et al., 2012). Mean annual air temperature has warmed by ~ 1.4 °C since 1949 across the FRB while total annual precipitation remained stable despite a significant change in its type from snowfall to rainfall (Kang et al., 2014). Changes in the FRB’s climate have impacted the evolution and duration of its seasonal snowpack, resulting in a 19% decline in the contribution of snow to its hydrological regime (Kang et al., 2016). Simulations project that the FRB is currently transitioning from a nival to a pluvio-nival hybrid system due to warmer winter air temperatures and phase changes in precipitation (Kerkhoven and Gan, 2011; Morrison et al., 2002) and incur a rise of 1.4 C in August water temperatures by 2100 (Ferrari et al., 2007). This raises concerns about the impacts of changing hydrology on the occurrence of flood and drought as well as terrestrial and aquatic species and their habitats (Kang et al., 2016).

Figure 1. Fraser River Basin (FRB) including four major sub-basins Upper Fraser,  Nechako, Thompson, and Lower Fraser


Different sources of dataset are used for the drainage set of the FRB. 

Digital Elevation Model (DEM)

The FRB forms one of the largest and most important basins of North America. The highest peak is located at Mount Robson (3954 m, Figure 2). In this study, the elevation data is provided by MERIT Hydro (Yamazaki et al., 2017) with a resolution of 3 arc-second (~90 m at the equator). The MERIT elevations are adjusted to satisfy the condition 'downstream is not higher than its upstream' while minimizing the required modifications from the original DEM.

Local access2\\globalwater\MDR\PhysiographicData\TopographyData\MERIT_Hydro\AdjustedElevation\AdElv.tif

1)      The MERIT DEM for the FRB is obtained by merging elevation grid cells that cover the Fraser Basin to construct a mosaic DEM. The mosaic DEM is usually larger than the domain of study. Therefore, the mosaic DEM should be clipped by using a mask to match the FRB’s boundary.

2)      If globalwater merged DEM is used, a mask should be used to clip the MERIT DEM in order to match the FRB’s boundary    

   Figure 2. Digital elevation map of the FRB

Land Cover (LC)

The land cover types used is based on the North American Land Change Monitoring System (NALCMS) which is a collaborative initiative between Natural Resources Canada/Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (NRCan/CCRS); the United States Geological Survey (USGS); and three Mexican organizations. The land cover dataset is generated at 30 m spatial resolution using observation from 2010 Thematic Mapper (TM) and Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+) Landsat sensors. The FRB (Figure 3) is dominated by 12 land cover classes, including needleleaf (53.94%), broadleaf (3.57%), mixed forest (8.89%), shrubland (8.91%), grassland (8.23%), lichen-moss (0.12%), wetland (0.08%), cropland (1.13%), barren land (7.34%), Urban and build-up (0.91%), water (4.07%), and snow and ice (2.8%).

Local access\\globalwater\MDR\PhysiographicData\Land Cover Data\NA Land Cover\NA_LandCover_2010 V1 LANDSAT-30m

 Figure 3. Land cover types for the FRB

Hydrological structures 

Outlet locations 

In the Fraser basin among 811 available gauge stations located in BC, 92 active ones with continuous records were selected. The minimum drainage area of 200 km2 is also used as a criterion for the selection of stations. Based on the drainage area, gauges are categorized into four classes, including extra-large (area > 100,000 km2), large (  3000 km2< area < 100,000 km2), medium (1000 km2< area < 3000 km2), and small ( area < 1000 km2). 

The geographic locations of some gauge stations are modified to minimize the difference between drainage area calculated from MESH and what is reported from the Water Survey Canada (WSC)’s shapefile.   

NumberStation IDStation NameLatitude (°)Longitude (°)Drainage Area (km2)ClassificationActivity



108JA017NECHAKO RIVER BELOW CHESLATTA FALLS53.6855-124.839315491.7LContinuous flow and level1980 to 2016
208JB002STELLAKO RIVER AT GLENANNAN53.9780-125.01504019.63LContinuous flow and level1929 to 2017
308JB003NAUTLEY RIVER NEAR FORT FRASER54.0660-124.64806552.13LContinuous flow and level1950 to 2016
408JB008NADINA RIVER AT OUTLET OF NADINA LAKE53.8990-127.0120369SContinuous flow and level1964 to 2018
508JC001NECHAKO RIVER AT VANDERHOOF54.0267-124.008725232.2LContinuous flow and level1915 to 2017
608JC002NECHAKO RIVER AT ISLE PIERRE53.9604-123.234942747.3LContinuous flow and level1950 to 2016
708JD006DRIFTWOOD RIVER ABOVE KASTBERG CREEK55.9810-126.7700-126.77SContinuous flow and level1979 to 2018
808JE001STUART RIVER NEAR FORT ST. JAMES54.4169-124.270614212LContinuous flow and level1929 to 2018
908JE004TSILCOH RIVER NEAR THE MOUTH54.6108-124.2478431SContinuous flow and level1975 to 2017
1008KA001DORE RIVER NEAR MCBRIDE53.2850-120.2730408.8SContinuous flow and level1915 to 2018
1108KA004FRASER RIVER AT HANSARD54.0760-121.885017955.8LContinuous flow and level1952 to 2018
1208KA005FRASER RIVER AT MCBRIDE53.2880-120.11506886.42LContinuous flow and level1953 to 2018
1308KA007FRASER RIVER AT RED PASS52.9770-118.99001709.7MContinuous flow and level1955 to 2016
1408KA009MCKALE RIVER NEAR 940 M CONTOUR53.4441-120.2201253.39SContinuous flow and level1971 to 2015
1508KA013MORKILL RIVER BELOW HELLROARING CREEK53.6817-120.59141260.18MContinuous flow and level1998 to 2017
1608KB001FRASER RIVER AT SHELLEY54.0037-122.624832436.6LContinuous flow and level1950 to 2017
1708KB003MCGREGOR RIVER AT LOWER CANYON54.2312-121.66884778.12LContinuous flow and level1959 to 2017
1808KC001SALMON RIVER NEAR PRINCE GEORGE54.1360-122.67994232.7LContinuous flow and level1953 to 2019
1908KD006WILLOW RIVER ABOVE HAY CREEK53.9720-122.32202864.91MContinuous flow and level1976 to 2011
2008KD007BOWRON RIVER BELOW BOX CANYON54.0169-122.10293332.58LContinuous flow and level1977 to 2016
2108KH001QUESNEL RIVER AT LIKELY52.6158-121.57235965.07LContinuous flow and level1924 to 2017
2208KH006QUESNEL RIVER NEAR QUESNEL52.8431-122.225311546.8LContinuous flow and level1939 to 2016
2308KH010HORSEFLY RIVER ABOVE MCKINLEY CREEK52.3300-120.9600789.84SContinuous flow and level1955 to 2017
2408KH019MOFFAT CREEK NEAR HORSEFLY52.2330-121.4850547.67SContinuous flow and level1964 to 2018
2508KH020MCKINLEY CREEK BELOW OUTLET OF MCKINLEY LAKE52.2390-120.9585430.54SContinuous flow and level1964 to 2017
2608KH031HORSEFLY RIVER ABOVE QUESNEL LAKE52.4443-121.41812758.43MContinuous flow and level2004 to 2016
2708KE016BAKER CREEK AT QUESNEL52.9739-122.50941554.58MContinuous flow and level1963 to 2018
2808KG001WEST ROAD RIVER NEAR CINEMA53.3064-122.891812429.8LContinuous flow and level1952 to 2016
2908LA001CLEARWATER RIVER NEAR CLEARWATER STATION51.6557-120.066110325.8LContinuous flow and level1914 to 2017
3008LA027BRIDGE CREEK BELOW DEKA CREEK51.5622-120.8680365SContinuous flow and level1998 to 2018
3108LB020BARRIERE RIVER AT THE MOUTH51.1940-120.11601144.37MContinuous flow and level1915 to 2018
3208LB038BLUE RIVER NEAR BLUE RIVER52.0850-119.3820272.22SContinuous flow and level1926 to 2018
3308LB047NORTH THOMPSON RIVER AT BIRCH ISLAND51.5870-119.86504487.23LContinuous flow and level1960 to 2015
3408LB064NORTH THOMPSON RIVER AT MCLURE51.0409-120.240519612LContinuous flow and level1958 to 2018
3508LB069BARRIERE RIVER BELOW SPRAGUE CREEK51.2550-119.9377624.12SContinuous flow and level1964 to 2018
3608LB078LEMIEUX CREEK NEAR THE MOUTH51.4530-120.2740528.69SContinuous flow and level1977 to 2018
3708LC002SHUSWAP RIVER NEAR ENDERBY50.5437-118.99004723.56LContinuous flow and level1911 to 2018
3808LC003SHUSWAP RIVER NEAR LUMBY50.3050-118.73902004.18MContinuous flow and level1913 to 2018
3908LC018SHUSWAP RIVER AT OUTLET OF SUGAR LAKE RESERVOIR50.3451-118.54791131.23MContinuous flow and level1926 to 2018
4008LC039BESSETTE CREEK ABOVE BEAVERJACK CREEK50.2950-118.8940769.4SContinuous flow and level1970 to 2015
4108LC042BESSETTE CREEK ABOVE LUMBY LAGOON OUTFALL50.2400-118.9612632.2SContinuous flow and level1973 to 2015
4208LD001ADAMS RIVER NEAR SQUILAX50.9376-119.65633205.23LContinuous flow and level1911 to 2018
4308LE020SALMON RIVER AT FALKLAND50.4900-119.54901029.36MContinuous flow and level1911 to 2018
4408LE021SALMON RIVER NEAR SALMON ARM50.6925-119.33051548.72MContinuous flow and level1911 to 2015
4508LE024EAGLE RIVER NEAR MALAKWA50.9610-118.7290932.33SContinuous flow and level1913 to 2018
4608LE027SEYMOUR RIVER NEAR SEYMOUR ARM51.2622-118.9464805.05SContinuous flow and level1914 to 2018
4708LE031SOUTH THOMPSON RIVER AT CHASE50.7631-119.743115819.8LContinuous flow and level1911 to 2018
4808LE112CHASE CREEK ABOVE THE MOUTH50.7380-119.6578296.62SContinuous flow and level1996 to 2015
4908LF002BONAPARTE RIVER BELOW CACHE CREEK50.8030-121.32335281.07LContinuous flow and level1911 to 2018
5008LF007CRISS CREEK NEAR SAVONA50.9880-120.8450479.48SContinuous flow and level1912 to 2014
5108LF023THOMPSON RIVER AT KAMLOOPS50.6875-120.3641-120.36412LContinuous flow and level1911 to 2018
5208LF027DEADMAN RIVER ABOVE CRISS CREEK50.8981-120.9760878.13SContinuous flow and level1913 to 2018
5308LF051THOMPSON RIVER NEAR SPENCES BRIDGE50.3546-121.393755417.3LContinuous flow and level1951 to 2019
5408LG006NICOLA RIVER NEAR SPENCES BRIDGE50.3309-121.22687103.44LContinuous flow and level1911 to 2014
5508LG007NICOLA RIVER NEAR MERRITT50.1310-120.85604300.98LContinuous flow1911 to 2007
5608LG008SPIUS CREEK NEAR CANFORD50.0860-121.0560-121.056SContinuous flow and level1911 to 2014
5708LG010COLDWATER RIVER AT MERRITT50.1098-120.8030916.59SContinuous flow and level1913 to 2018
5808LG041GUICHON CREEK AT OUTLET OF MAMIT LAKE50.4140-120.8160871SContinuous flow and level1936 to 2018
5908LG048COLDWATER RIVER NEAR BROOKMERE49.8542-120.9085316SContinuous flow and level1965 to 2018
6008LG049NICOLA RIVER ABOVE NICOLA LAKE50.1826-120.36751414.89MContinuous flow and level1915 to 2014
6108LG065NICOLA RIVER AT OUTLET OF NICOLA LAKE50.1560-120.56902963.04MContinuous flow and level1983 to 2019
6208LG067GUICHON CREEK AT THE MOUTH50.2940-120.83901230MContinuous flow and level1984 to 2015
6308MA001CHILKO RIVER NEAR REDSTONE52.0150-123.65006876.33LContinuous flow and level1927 to 2017
6408MA002CHILKO RIVER AT OUTLET OF CHILKO LAKE51.6249-124.14342133.93MContinuous flow and level1928 to 2018
6508MA003TASEKO RIVER AT OUTLET OF TASEKO LAKES51.3230-123.60501523.28MContinuous flow and level1929 to 2018
6608MB005CHILCOTIN RIVER BELOW BIG CREEK51.8479-122.654819205.5LContinuous flow and level1970 to 2017
6708MB006BIG CREEK ABOVE GROUNDHOG CREEK51.4900-123.07401010MContinuous flow and level1974 to 2018
6808MB007BIG CREEK BELOW GRAVEYARD CREEK51.1810-123.1520195.84SContinuous flow and level1974 to 2017
6908MC018FRASER RIVER NEAR MARGUERITE52.5303-122.4443114357XLContinuous flow and level1950 to 2015
7008MC040SAN JOSE RIVER ABOVE BORLAND CREEK52.0771-121.99191987MContinuous flow and level1984 to 2017
7108ME002CAYOOSH CREEK NEAR LILLOOET50.6120-122.1090885SContinuous flow and level1914 to 2018
7208ME003SETON RIVER NEAR LILLOOET50.6880-122.06101018.38MContinuous flow and level1914 to 2018
7308ME025YALAKOM RIVER ABOVE ORE CREEK50.9126-122.2393581SContinuous flow and level1983 to 2018
7408ME027HURLEY RIVER BELOW LONE GOAT CREEK50.7309-122.9420312SContinuous flow and level1996 to 2017
7508ME028BRIDGE RIVER ABOVE DOWNTON LAKE50.8209-123.2035708SContinuous flow and level1996 to 2018
7608MF005FRASER RIVER AT HOPE49.3860-121.4542216639XLContinuous flow and level1912 to 2016
7708MF035FRASER RIVER NEAR AGASSIZ49.2037-121.7758-121.77583XLSeasonal flow and level1949 to 2018
7808MF040FRASER RIVER ABOVE TEXAS CREEK50.6460-121.8840154232XLContinuous flow and level1951 to 2018
7908MF065NAHATLATCH RIVER BELOW TACHEWANA CREEK49.9410-121.9080712SContinuous flow and level1973 to 2019
8008MF068COQUIHALLA RIVER ABOVE ALEXANDER CREEK49.3660-121.3600720SContinuous flow and level1987 to 2017
8108MG001CHEHALIS RIVER NEAR HARRISON MILLS49.3000-121.9378383SContinuous flow and level1911 to 2018
8208MG005LILLOOET RIVER NEAR PEMBERTON50.4160-122.90102098MContinuous flow and level1914 to 2017
8308MG013HARRISON RIVER NEAR HARRISON HOT SPRINGS49.3890-121.84007885.84LContinuous flow1951 to 2015
8408MG022HARRISON RIVER BELOW MORRIS CREEK49.2960-121.8676-121.8676LContinuous level1973 to 2018
8508MH001CHILLIWACK RIVER AT VEDDER CROSSING49.0960-122.01201231.97MContinuous flow and level1911 to 2017
8608MH016CHILLIWACK RIVER AT OUTLET OF CHILLIWACK LAKE49.0836-121.4584335SContinuous flow and level1923 to 2017
8708MH103CHILLIWACK RIVER ABOVE SLESSE CREEK49.1017-121.6630650SContinuous flow and level1963 to 2017
8808MH002COQUITLAM RIVER AT PORT COQUITLAM49.2652-122.7815238SContinuous flow and level1915 to 2019
8908MH005ALOUETTE RIVER NEAR HANEY49.2960-122.4660233SContinuous flow and level1911 to 2016
9008MH024FRASER RIVER AT MISSION49.1277-122.3029228160XLContinuous flow and level1965 to 2014
9108MH126FRASER RIVER AT PORT MANN PUMPING STATION49.2178-122.8247-122.82466XLContinuous flow and level1965 to 2006
9208MH147STAVE RIVER ABOVE STAVE LAKE49.5562-122.3231290SContinuous flow and level1983 to 2016

 XL (extra-large), L (Large), (Medium), (Small)


The drainage database of the FRB basin is generated in Green Kenue (GK). Some modifications are applied to modify drainage direction and gauge locations. The recent version of MESH (1.4.1728) has been set-up for the FRB. 

These files are primary versions of drainage setups and they are not finalized yet. The modifications are uploaded regularly in GitHub.




Déry, S.J., Hernández-Henríquez, M.A., Owens, P.N., Parkes, M.W., Petticrew, E.L., 2012. A century of hydrological variability and trends in the Fraser River Basin. Environ. Res. Lett. 7, 024019.

Ferrari, M.R., Miller, J.R., Russell, G.L., 2007. Modeling changes in summer temperature of the Fraser River during the next century. J. Hydrol. 342, 336–346.

Fraser Basin Council - About the Fraser Basin, 2021. URL (accessed 1.8.21).

Islam, S. ul, Déry, S.J., Werner, A.T., 2017. Future Climate Change Impacts on Snow and Water Resources of the Fraser River Basin, British Columbia. J. Hydrometeorol. 18, 473–496.

Kang, D.H., Gao, H., Shi, X., Islam, S.U., Déry, S.J., 2016. Impacts of a Rapidly Declining Mountain Snowpack on Streamflow Timing in Canada’s Fraser River Basin. Sci. Rep. 6, 1–8.

Kang, D.H., Shi, X., Gao, H., Déry, S.J., 2014. On the Changing Contribution of Snow to the Hydrology of the Fraser River Basin, Canada. J. Hydrometeorol. 15, 1344–1365.

Kerkhoven, E., Gan, T.Y., 2011. Differences and sensitivities in potential hydrologic impact of climate change to regional-scale Athabasca and Fraser River basins of the leeward and windward sides of the Canadian Rocky Mountains respectively. Clim. Change 106, 583–607.

Morrison, J., Quick, M.C., Foreman, M.G.G., 2002. Climate change in the Fraser River watershed: Flow and temperature projections. J. Hydrol. 263, 230–244.

Yamazaki, D., Ikeshima, D., Tawatari, R., Yamaguchi, T., O’Loughlin, F., Neal, J.C., Sampson, C.C., Kanae, S., Bates, P.D., 2017. A high-accuracy map of global terrain elevations. Geophys. Res. Lett. 44, 5844–5853.

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