Climate change is affecting the Canadian Arctic at a much faster rate than other parts of the planet. However the Arctic and its peoples have a long history of adaptation and survival. Dr. Isla Myers-Smith is a global change ecologist from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Isla has 12 field seasons under her belt, conducting research in the Arctic and Sub-Antarctic. Dr. Myers-Smith is known for her enthusiasm and energy and she has successfully brought together teams of researchers, including "Team Shrub", with whom she continues to conduct research in the Arctic.
Dr. Myers-Smith and Team Shrub study plants and how ecosystems are responding as the planet warms. Using traditional tools and new technology such as drones, they are capturing change on Qikiqtaruk, Hershal Island in the Yukon Territory in Northwest Canada in and around the tundra biome. Isla returned to the Arctic in 2019 with the Greening Arctic Project, capturing hotspots of tundra vegetation change at landscape scales. This research is meant to fill in gaps between on-the-ground ecological monitoring and observations from satellites in space. It is the hope that this project can help predict how plant life will respond to the rapid warming of the Canadian Arctic.
In this episode we discuss the increasing size of shrubs on Qikiqtaruk and across the Arctic tundra, shore erosion, slumping, animal migration patterns, adaptation of the land and people, the importance of cooperation between science and traditional Inuvialuit knowledge, and what the future of the Arctic may hold.