Environment

Emily Choy on climate change in the Arctic

Episode 27

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s newest Explorer-in-Residence shares insights from her summers studying murres in the High Arctic — a region she calls an “early warning system” for climate change

  • Published Nov 30, 2021
  • Updated Apr 13, 2022
Emily Choy studies murres, small, deep-diving seabirds that nest by the tens of thousands on the high, barren cliffs of Coats Island in the Canadian Arctic. The murres are vulnerable to increasing summer heatwaves and are changing their diet as their preferred food, Arctic cod, shifts north in search of colder waters.
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We’re thrilled to welcome Emily Choy, the newest RCGS Explorer-in-Residence, to the Explore Podcast. Based out of McGill University, Emily is an award-winning expert on the impacts of climate change on the Arctic, with a focus on a sea-bird called murres.

Emily describes her summers on Coats Island in Hudson’s Bay, studying a colony of 30,000 murres that nest high on the island’s barren cliffs. Looking like a cross between a penguin and a puffin, these remarkable sea birds can dive up to 100 metres deep while hunting for fish. Emily explains how summer heatwaves are seeing murres die in their nests from heat exhaustion, and how they are being forced to change their diet as their staple food source, Arctic cod, shifts north searching for colder waters.

She also describes how her passion for nature was nurtured at her grandparents’ cottage near Lake Simcoe, her time spent studying beluga whales, and why she sees her role as a Black female scientist as an important one, especially in her work in the North.

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