Trent University Professor Named Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society


Climate change research and teaching win Dr. Peter Lafleur prestigious honour

Friday, November 19, 2010, Peterborough

Trent alumnus and professor in the Department of Geography Dr. Peter Lafleur was named a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) at a fellows dinner in Ottawa on this month, for his research on climate change, particularly in the North and service to the Society.

Professor Lafleur’s election took place in November at the RCGS Annual Fellows Dinner in Ottawa, the same dinner at which Trent Emeritus Professor Dr. Tom Hutchinson and company were awarded gold medals for their work on the Canadian National Committee for International Polar Year.

Being a fellow in the RCGS is a prestigious honour, marking Prof. Lafleur as highly recognized in his field. He will now be working strategically with those who represent the steering body for the organization, formulating responses to and comments on national issues and making decisions on award recipients.

In his current work, Prof. Lafleur is interested in understanding how the carbon cycle of Arctic tundra works and how climate change will affect it. He has authored or co-authored over 80 peer reviewed publications in climatology and bioclimatology, many on the Arctic. His study “Spring Warming and Carbon Dioxide Exchange over Low Arctic Tundra in Central Canada” represented the first (and still only) study of landscape-scale, tundra-atmosphere carbon exchange in the Canadian Arctic.

During the reading break in fall 2010, Prof. Lafleur took one of his classes to the Rocky Mountains for a week of field research in Geography. He teaches the field course every two years, giving students the opportunity to do field research away from the university environment. After six weeks of preparations and the intense week of field research, students learn how to treat the data they collected and to write up a report.

“The reason we undertake these studies in a place away from Trent,” explains Prof. Lafleur, “is to present students with a more realistic research experience and to give them the opportunity to test their skills in project design and implementation. The projects range in scope from examining rock placements in glacial till and studying the relationship between characteristics of streams and bankfull discharge to measuring slope and aspect influence on microclimate and exploring soil hydrologic characteristics and carbon content.”

“At Trent University there is a real sense of freedom to pursue the research that is important to you and, since my arrival in 1988, colleagues have always supported the work I do,” noted Prof. Lafleur, who said that he was honoured and taken aback that he was even considered, let alone chosen as a fellow of the RCGS.

Trent alumnus Dr. Peter Lafleur completed his M.Sc. in Watershed Ecosystems in 1984, before getting his Ph.D. from McMaster University in 1988. His research is in the fields of climatology, bioclimatology and hydrometeorology. His specific research interest is the atmosphere-ecosystem exchange of carbon dioxide and water in peatland and tundra environments. Current projects include ecosystem carbon measurement and modelling at the eastern peatland station of the Fluxnet Canada Research Network and investigation of carbon exchange variation between tundra types in the central North West Territories. Prof. Lafleur currently teaches courses in microclimatology, global climate systems, hydrometeorology, statistics for natural science and field based geographical research.

The RCGS is Canada’s oldest geographical society, having celebrated its 80th anniversary. It supports student expeditions, geography in schools and “making Canada better known among Canadians and overseas” in its main publication Canadian Geographic, ranked fourth of Canada’s magazines.


For more information, please contact: Dr. Peter Lafleur, professor, Department of Geography, (705) 748-1011, ext 7487