Ian Strachan

Image by Alex Tran.

Associate Professor; Associate Dean (Graduate Education) (on Sabbatic leave)

(cross-appointed to Geography Department)

T: 514-398-7935  |  ian.strachan [at] mcgill.ca (Email)  |  Macdonald-Stewart Building, MS2-076  |  Website


BSc (Toronto)
MSc (Queen’s)
PhD (Queen’s)

Short Bio

Ian Strachan received PhD (2000) and MSc degrees at Queen’s University (Kingston, ON) following an undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto. He completed post-doctoral research with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Ottawa. He joined McGill in 2001 and became the Faculty’s first Associate Dean (Graduate Education) in 2012. He is past-President of the Canadian Society of Agricultural and Forest Meteorologists and served as a two-term member of the American Meteorological Society’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee on Agricultural and Forest Meteorology.

Awards and Recognitions

Graham K. Walker Award - Excellence in agro/forest meteorology
(awarded by the Canadian Society of Agricultural and Forest Meteorology)

Research Interests

Professor Strachan studies the mechanisms controlling the release and uptake of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane) in a variety of ecosystems. He is especially interested in ecosystems which have been disturbed or are managed by human activity. He measures these gas exchanges at large spatial scales and continuously through time using fast-response environmental sensors.

Current Research

The research in the Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) lab is focused on the environmental controls on trace gas exchange (e.g. CO2) between the atmosphere and ecosystems – especially those that have been modified or are managed through human activity. We conduct research at the ecosystem scale using eddy covariance flux towers to integrate measurements of trace gas exchange over space and through time.

Current Projects:

Carbon cycling in restored peatlands following extraction: in collaboration with Maria Strack (Waterloo University), Line Rochefort (Université Laval), Nigel Roulet (McGill) and the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Growers Association we are examining the resulting changes in peatland carbon cycling resulting from drainage, extraction and restoration. Four flux towers at restored and unrestored locations in Quebec and Alberta have been providing nearly continuous measurements of CO2 and CH4 exchange. We are interested in the different carbon uptake trajectory that active restoration provides and also specifically on the role that methane has in the restored peatland carbon budget.

Controls on CO2 and CH4 from a marsh wetland: Marshes are dynamic systems with large carbon uptake over the warm season while simultaneously providing a potentially large conduit for methane to the atmosphere through tissues designed to oxygenate roots. We are studying the processes that control carbon fluxes within these systems in a wetland near Ottawa.

Evapotranspiration and trace gas exchange in agricultural systems: in collaboration with Asim Biswas (University of Guelph) and Zhiming Xi (McGill). We are evaluating new measurement techniques for measurement of soil moisture and are looking at improvements to the modelling of water flows through agricultural cropping systems especially during winter months.


ENVB 301 Meteorology 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

NRSC 221 (3 credits)
GEOG 221
(3 credits)
GEOG 321 (3 credits)


View a list of current publications

Select Publications

Strachan, I.B., Tremblay, A., Pelletier, L., Tardif, S., Turpin, C. and Nugent, K.A., 2016. Does the creation of a Boreal hydroelectric reservoir result in a net change in evaporation? Journal of Hydrology 540: 886-899.

Strachan, I.B., Pelletier, L. and Bonneville, M-C., 2016. Interannual variability in water table level controls net ecosystem carbon dioxide exchange in a boreal bog. Biogeochemistry 127: 99-111.

Strack, M., Cagampan, J., Hassanpour Fard, G., Keith, A.M., Nugent, K.A., Rankin, T., Robinson, C., Strachan, I.B., Waddington, J.M., and Xu, B., 2016. Controls on plot-scale growing season CO2 and CH4 fluxes in restored peatlands: Do they differ from unrestored and natural sites? Mires and Peat 17(5): 1-18. DOI: 10.19189/MaP.2015.OMB.216

Wang, W., Roulet, N.T., Strachan, I.B., and Tremblay, A., 2016. Modelling surface energy fluxes and thermal dynamics of a seasonally ice-covered hydroelectric reservoir. Science of the Total Environment 550: 793-805.

Kim, Y., Roulet, N.T., Li, C., Frolking, S., Strachan, I.B., Peng, C., Teodoru, C.R., Prairie, Y.T., and Tremblay, A., 2016. Simulating carbon dioxide exchange in boreal ecosystems flooded by reservoirs. Ecological Modelling 327: 1-17.

Strachan, I.B., Nugent, K.A., Crombie, S., and Bonneville, M-C., 2015. Carbon dioxide and methane exchange at a cool-temperate freshwater marsh. Environmental Research Letters 10:065006

Pelletier, L., Strachan, I.B., Roulet, N.T., Garneau, M., and Wischnewski, K., 2015. Effect of open water pools on ecosystem scale surface-atmosphere carbon dioxide exchange in a boreal peatland. Biogeochemistry 1–14. doi: 10.1007/s10533-015-0098-z

Pelletier, L., Strachan, I.B., Roulet, N.T., and Garneau, M., 2015. Can boreal peatlands with pools be net sinks for CO2? Environmental Research Letters 10:035002; Monthly Highlighted pub (Mar’15)

Pelletier, L., Strachan, I.B., Garneau, M., and Roulet, N.T., 2014. Carbon release from boreal peatland open water pools: implication for the contemporary C exchange. Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences 119(3): 207-222; doi:10.1002/2013JG002423

Kim, Y., Roulet, N.T., Peng, G., Li, C., Frolking, S., Strachan, I.B., and Tremblay, A., 2014. Multi-year carbon dioxide flux simulations for mature Canadian black spruce forests and ombrotrophic bogs using Forest-DNDC. Boreal Environment Research 19(5-6): 417-440

Järvi, L., Grimmond, C.S.B., Taka, M., Nordbo, A., Setälä, H., and Strachan, I.B., 2014. Development of the Surface Urban Energy and Water balance Scheme (SUEWS) for cold climate cities, Geoscientific Model Development 7: 1691-1711

Tremblay, A., Tardif, S., Strachan, I.B., and Turpin, C., 2014. Net water evaporation from the Eastmain-1 reservoir. Hydro Review 33(5): 52-60.


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