Eos speaks with Saros about new research on Greenland, warming trends

Eos spoke with Jasmine Saros, a professor and associate director of the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine, for an article on her new research that found Greenland is highly sensitive to recent warming trends. Ecosystems in this most rapidly warming part of the world are more sensitive to sudden climate shifts than expected — two recent abrupt temperature increases in West Greenland led to increased ice sheet melt, intense dust storms, and earlier spring plant growth and lake thaw, according to the new study led by Saros, Eos reported. “We’re seeing environmental responses much more quickly than we might have expected. What it means is that the system is very sensitive to climate. It responds quickly when the temperatures go up,” said Saros. “Prior work has suggested that there are often lags in environmental response. But not in our study.” Arctic systems may be especially sensitive to rapid climate shifts because of their shorter growing season and simpler food web, according to Saros. “These systems are responding even more rapidly to climate change than we had imagined. We often talk about ‘climate is going to do this and going to do that.’ And it’s already doing it,” she said.