Merritt Turetsky

Director, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research; associate professor, ecology and evolutionary biology, University of Colorado Boulder

Merritt Turetsky has more than 20 years of experience working in boreal and arctic ecosystems. Her research contributes to theoretical predictions of ecosystem structure and function but also applies to regulation of carbon in a global change world. She is passionate about northern ecosystems and the people who depend on them. Through research, engagement, and teaching, her primary aim is to train the next generation of scientists in the interdisciplinary skills required to tackle ongoing challenges in the north related to food and water security, energy sustainability, carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, and landscape change. By conducting user-driven research that also addresses fundamental questions in ecology and global change biology, she and her students help to build knowledge and capacity for northern communities and governments.

Merritt is speaking at

Platform: Zoom webinar CASW New Horizons in Science
October 20, 2020
4:00 pm - 4:30 pm


  • Michael-Shawn Fletcher (Speaker) Assistant dean (Indigenous); associate professor of geography, University of Melbourne
  • Michelle Ward (Speaker) PhD Candidate, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland
  • Bhiamie Williamson (Speaker) Research associate & PhD candidate, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University
  • Merritt Turetsky (Speaker) Director, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research; associate professor, ecology and evolutionary biology, University of Colorado Boulder
  • W. Wayt Gibbs (Moderator) New Horizons in Science program director, CASW


Watch the prerecorded talks for this session beginning on Oct. 13. (Video embargoed until 4:00 p.m. ET 10/20/20.) Then submit your questions for the speakers, and tune in here on Oct. 20 to watch answers from Williamson and Shawn-Fletcher and to hear live from Michelle Ward in Brisbane and Merritt Turetsky in Boulder. (Whova mobile app users, look for the YouTube link in the session description.)

This past summer, nearly 100,000 square kilometers of land went up in flames in the Australian bushfires—a fire event larger than any in the past 10,000 years on that continent. The devastation released some 400 million tons of CO2, killed perhaps a billion animals, and damaged many Aboriginal Australian communities.

Then in June, as temperatures soared into triple digits north of the Arctic Circle, fires swept through the taiga and tundra of Siberia and within a month surpassed the record-setting summer of 2019, raising concerns that already vulnerable peatlands and permafrost could be lost. A continuation of this trend could have dire consequences for Arctic ecosystems and some Indigenous communities, as well as worrisome climate impacts.

In this session, two Aboriginal Australian scientists and a wildlife ecologist who has done extensive surveys of the burned area will present new results from their research on the paleohistoric significance of this year's bushfires, the misguided logging and forest-management practices that fueled the fires, the far-reaching damage the mega-fires wreaked on wildlife habitats, and ways that Aboriginal cultural land-management practices should be brought back to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Then the director of the University of Colorado's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research will update us on the fire situation in Siberia, Alaska, and Canada and her research on how forest fires are interacting with climate change and Arctic warming, permafrost, peatlands, and taiga and tundra ecology in ways that threaten Alaska Native and First Nations peoples and the ecosystems on which they—and all of us—depend.

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