Photo of Associate Professor Murray Richardson

Associate Professor Murray Richardson

Watershed ecosystems; Ecosystems sensitivity to atmospheric mercury pollution; Environmental geocomputation: GIS, remote sensing and statistical modeling

Degrees:B.Sc. (Trent University), M.Sc. (University of Toronto), Ph.D. (Toronto)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 2574
Office:B355 Loeb Building


My research group conducts inter-disciplinary studies in geomatics (e.g. Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing), physical hydrology and the biogeosciences.  We focus on the spatio-temporal characterization and modelling of watershed ecosystems at sites throughout Canada’s northern ecozones, including the Boreal Shield, the Taiga Shield and the Arctic tundra, as well as more local sites in central Ontario and the Ottawa-Gatineau region. Some examples of specific topics include snow distribution mapping and modelling, mercury and trace-metal cycling, and wetland classification/hydrologic monitoring with satellite, airborne and UAV-based remote sensing.

I teach courses at all levels in the Department of Geography and Environmental studies, and supervise a team of graduate and undergraduate students. I also co-lead the recently funded Water and Ice Research Lab (WIRL) at Carleton, which specializes in field-data collection and geo-computation for water and ice research.  Finally, I work with government, industry, not-for-profit partners and community groups, and welcome new research opportunities and consultancies that fall within my broad areas of interest.

Research keywords

hydrology; water-quality; snow; mercury; watershed ecosystems; limnology; wetlands; peatlands; GIS; remote sensing, geo-computation; digital terrain analysis; spatial statistics; ecohydrology; LiDAR; DEMs; Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

2021 – 2022 Courses

  • GEOM 1004 Maps, Satellites and the Geospatial Revolution
  • GEOM 2007 Fall Points, Lines and Polygons
  • GEOG 3003 Quantitative Geography
  • GEOM 4005 Directed Studies in Geomatics
  • GEOM 4906 Honours Research Project
  • GEOM 4909 Honours Research Thesis

Current or recent research activities/partners and funding agencies

  • Northern Contaminants Program, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (2017-2018) – “Snowpack mercury mass balance over the spring melt period, Iqaluit, NU”
  • Government of Northwest Territories Cumulative Impacts Monitoring Program (GNWT CIMP), Empirical modelling for improved streamflow forecasting in the Snare River basin, NWT”
  • Polar Knowledge Canada (2015-2018) – Partnership for integrated environmental monitoring and water science training in the Apex River watershed, Iqaluit, NU
  • Northern Contaminants Program, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (2014-2016) – “Metal loading and retention in Arctic tundra lakes during spring snowmelt” with co-PI Jamal Shirley, Nunavut Research Institute
  • Canadian Foundation for Innovation Leaders Opportunity Fund – “Water and Ice Laboratory Infrastructure Grant” with co-PI Derek Mueller, Carleton University
  • Northern Contaminants Program, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (2013-2015) – “A latitudinal investigation of ecosystem sensitivity to methylmercury bioaccumulation in Arctic freshwaters” with co-PI John Chételat, Environment Canada
  • NSERC Discovery Grant (2012-2017) “Water balance modelling in complex terrain: new approaches for Canada’s northern lowland and Precambrian Shield regions”

Community-based participatory research projects with Water First

  • First Nations Environmental Contaminants Program (Health Canada), A community-based monitoring study to establish baseline fish mercury and heavy metal concentrations in the traditional territory of Temagami First Nation (TFN), Ontario, Canada (with co-leads Daisy Fannin, TFN, and John Millar, Water First
  • Health Canada First Nations Drinking Water Quality Monitoring Program (2013), “Shawanaga First Nation Community-Based Source Water Protection Research Partnership” (with co-lead John Millar, Water First)

Recent Publications (for complete go to

Langlois, M., Richardson, M., Price, J. 2017. Delineation of peatland lagg boundaries from airborne LiDAR. Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences.

Behnamian, A, Millard, K., Banks, S., White, L., Richardson, M., Pasher, J., 2017. A systematic approach for variable selection with Random Forests: achieving stable variable importance values. Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters.

Jones, C., Plewes, R., Murison, L., Sinclair, S., Davies, C., Bailey, J., Richardson, M., Gunn, J. 2017. Random forests as cumulative effects models: A case study of lakes and rivers in Muskoka, Canada. Journal of Environmental Management.

Zeng, C., King, D., Richardson, M. 2017. Fusion of Multispectral Imagery and Spectrometer Data in UAV Remote Sensing. Remote Sensing. 9(7): 696.  doi:10.3390/rs9070696

Zeng, C., Richardson, M., King, D. 2017. The impacts of environmental variables on water reflectance measured using a lightweight unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based spectrometer system. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. 130: 217-230.

White, L., Millard, K., Banks, S., Richardson, M., Pasher, J., Duffe, J. 2017. Moving to the Radarsat Constellation Mission: Comparing Synthesized Compact Polarimetry and Fully Polarimetric RADARSAT-2 Data for Image Classification of Peatlands. Remote Sensing. 9(6). doi:10.3390/rs9060573

Trudeau M., Richardson M. 2016. Empirical assessment of watershed scale effects of urbanization on event flow hydrology in watersheds of Canada’s Great Lakes-St Lawrence Basin. Journal of Hydrology. doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2016.08.051

Banks, S, Millard, K., Pasher, J., Richardson, M.C., Wang, and Jason Duffe. 2015. Assessing the Potential to Operationalize Shoreline Sensitivity Mapping: Classifying Multi-Date, Multi-Spatial Wide Fine Quad Pol RADARSAT-2 and Landsat 5 Imagery with a Single Random Forest Model. Remote Sensing. 7, 1-x manuscripts; doi:10.3390/rs71013528

Millard, K., and M.C. Richardson. 2015. “On the Importance of Training Data Sample Selection in Random Forest Image Classification: A Case Study in Peatland Ecosystem Mapping.” Remote Sensing 7.7 (2015): 8489-8515. doi:10.3390/rs70708489

Trudeau, M. P., and Richardson, M.C., 2015. “Change in event-scale hydrologic response in two urbanizing watersheds of the Great Lakes St Lawrence Basin 1969–2010.” Journal of Hydrology 523 650-662.


Canadian Geophysical Union (President, Biogeosciences Section)
American Geophysical Union
Canadian Water Resources Association