February 18, 2013. Climate Change And Blizzards May Be Connected, Global Warming Studies Demonstrate. Although seemingly contradictory, scientist are beginning to better understand how global warming can lead to less annual snowfall on average, yet also lead to more giant blizzards. The Rutgers Global Snow Lab says that spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has shrunk on average by 1 million square miles in the last 45 years. Additionally, the snow season is becoming much shortened, especially in spring and in the northernmost areas according to New Jersey State Climatologist and CECI Affiliate Dave Robinson. He also added that larger and more frequent big snow storms are a result of warmer air that can hold more moisture and warming oceans that give energy to such storms.
February 14, 2013. GAO: Climate Change Poses Big Financial Risk to U.S. Government. The U.S. Government Accountability Office has formally recognized the financial risk associated with climate change in its biennial assessment of government operations it deems as vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement or “effectiveness challenges.” The report noted that the federal government has substantial fiscal exposure to the consequences of climate change because it maintains extensive infrastructure and defense installations, insures property through the National Flood Insurance Program, and provides emergency aid to states and municipalities in response to natural disasters. The report also points out potential gaps in environmental satellite data beginning as early as 2014 if new satellites are not ready to launch in time or do not work as intended which could greatly hinder forecasts and warnings for hurricanes, storm surges, and floods, as well as impact general accuracy and timeliness.
February 13, 2013. Understanding Greenland ice sheet hydrology using an integrated multi-scale approach. Asa Rennermalm, Assistant Professor of Geography and CECI Affiliate, recently published a paper in Environmental Research Letters. The paper aims to improve understanding of Greenland ice sheet hydrology and its impact on current and future ice sheet dynamics, as well as its impact on global sea level rise. The paper looks at critically important processes such as albedo feedbacks leading to enhanced surface melting and meltwater retention.
February 5, 2013. EPA Updates Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data from Large Facilities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its second year of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data reported by large facilities. The Greenhouse Gas Reporting System requires facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more per year of GHGs are required to submit annual reports to the EPA. The total amount of emissions from 117 reporting facilities in New Jersey was 26,274,739 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) with 60% of that coming from power plants and another 22% coming from a combination of petroleum and natural gas systems and refineries. Nationwide, approximately 8,000 facilities across nine industry sectors reported 3.3 billion tons CO2e of direct emissions.
February 5, 2012. 20 Ways to Go Green in 2013. New Brunswick Patch offers 20 novel ways for one to decrease their carbon footprint in 2013. Ideas include buying fresh local produce at the Rutgers Gardens Farmers Market and the Rutgers Community Farmers Market, reducing bottled water use, planting trees, and replacing old light bulbs with new LED bulbs that last 15 times longer and use 75% less energy.
February 5, 2013. Activist Rallies Community on Climate Change. Acclaimed environmental journalist and activist, Bill McKibben, visited Rutgers on Monday to give a public lecture as part of his nation-wide tour “Do the Math: Why Climate Change Matters and What You Can Do About It.” The event was co-sponsored by the Rutgers Initiative on Climate and Society, the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, as well as other University organizations. The lecture stressed the scale and pace of climate change and that its effects are already being felt all around the globe. McKibben argued that science, logic and reason are not strong enough galvanizing forces to fight against rapidly accelerating global warming, largely due to the power and influence of the fossil fuel industry. As a result, McKibben created 350.org, a global grassroots movement intended to draw awareness to the issue and help solve the problem. McKibben also, along with other activists, played a significant role in interrupting federal approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to transport oil from the Canadian tar sands to the United States. The environmentalist is now looking to take the fight directly to the fossil fuel industry by creating a movement among universities to divest their holdings in fossil fuel companies. Currently there are 234 college campuses in the United States that have active divestment campaigns. Watch Bill McKibben's lecture here.
January 31, 2013. Professor Reviews Sea Levels Before, After Hurricane Sandy. In his lecture at the Wright-Rieman Auditorium entitled “Sandy comes to the Jersey Shore: Past, Present, and Future,” Rutgers professor of earth and planetary sciences and CECI affiliate Ken Miller described the factors that made Hurricane Sandy into a so called superstorm. Although Miller said Sandy cannot be directly attributed to global warming, he did say that increasing storm intensity can, and that a 1.8 millimeter rise in sea level over the last century certainly did not help either. Miller also pointed to the melting of polar ice caps as providing more water and energy for storms, further adding to the intensity of storms.
January 31, 2013. EPA Administrator Urges Student Involvement in Climate Change Debate. Judith Enck, the EPA’s regional administrator for New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, gave a lecture at the Cook Campus Center on the past, present and future of environmental protection. She noted that carbon pollution, from fossil fuels (power plants and transportation) are undoubtedly warming the earth and that confronting climate change is an important issue for EPA. She mentioned a disconnect between political rhetoric from actual actions, "My experience, almost always, is that members of Congress want the EPA to be more active in protecting the environment and their community,” she said. Enck said that action on climate change will only come when students get directly involved. “Whether you think global warming is legitimate or you think it’s a hoax – I think students have an obligation to voice their opinion and become active in these debates,” she said. Enck said she works with Native American tribes living in New York. They understand climate change’s implications, she said, because they look to the future seven generations when making decisions.
January 28, 2012. On Battered Jersey Shore, Sandy Victims Struggle With Costs of Climate Change. In the wake of superstorm Sandy, many New Jersey residents who live along the shore are still struggling to rebuild, while others are facing the prospect that they may never be able to rebuild their homes as a result of new zoning codes. Even before Sandy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began redrawing New Jersey’s flood maps to identify high risk houses likely to be effected by rising sea levels and climate change. In addition, Congress decided last July to end subsidies for federal flood insurance. As a result, many Jersey Shore residents are discovering that in order to rebuild their homes they must raise their houses by as much as 11 feet in some cases, which costs tens of thousands of dollars, or face flood-insurance premiums that may be unaffordable. Rutgers earth scientist and CECI affiliate Kenneth Miller, noted that residents who do not elevate their homes “are rolling loaded dice for extreme events.”
January 28, 2013. Keeping Green Green. At the recent Rain Bird’s Intelligent Use of Water Summit, speakers and panelists shared proven smart-water practices and encouraged the golf industry to take on a leadership role in innovative water management practices. One of the panelists, Rutgers turfgrass researcher Stacy Bonos, described ongoing research to develop a new breed of grass that is both salt tolerant and drought resistant.
January 27, 2013. Major Climate Changes Looming. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle detailed the growing belief among scientists that the Earth’s climate is fast approaching an irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change tipping point. The planet has warmed 0.8°C (1.4°F) since preindustrial times which is already causing the Arctic ice sheet to melt at a dramatic rate, the acidity of the ocean to rise to alarming levels, and triggering a previously unseen frequency of extreme weather events around the globe. Even more troubling, a November report by the World Bank predicted that if current trends continue, the Earth could warm by as much as an additional 4°C in 50 years, largely due to a lack of governmental action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and the addition of powerful positive feedbacks loops in the climate. The current international political consensus is that global warming should be capped at 2°C which is expected to be reached in a mere 25 years based on current trends. Alan Robock of the Rutgers Center for Environmental Prediction and a CECI affiliate, criticized this number as being arbitrary and that on our current path we will simply “go zooming way past” it.
January 26, 2013. Enjoying Snow, While We Still Have It. In a recent New York Times editorial, Rutgers climatologist and CECI affiliate Dr. David Robinson was cited for warning that, in general, climate change will bring an overall decline in snowfall, despite the fact that year-to-year fluctuations and regional differences may deceive casual observers. To illustrate this point, the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab reported that the Northern Hemisphere experienced its greatest snow coverage this past December since record keeping began in 1966. Yet, the recently released draft National Climate Assessment reports that compared to historical records, overall snow cover has decreased in the Northern Hemisphere, the frequency of very snowy winters has decreased and snow accumulations in the American West has declined as well.
January 21, 2013. Temperature Rising: How High Could the Tide Go? Researchers from Columbia University recently surveyed an ancient shoreline in South Africa that was seven miles inland and 64 feet above the current sea level. A growing body of evidence about ancient sea level fluctuations and past climate changes is alarming scientists to the potential degree of modern sea level rise as a result of climate change caused by human greenhouse gas emissions. Past research has indicated that a warming of the earth’s climate by only a couple degrees Fahrenheit can cause global sea level to rise by about 25 to 30 feet over time. However, experts predict that the earth’s climate may warm by as much as four to five degrees in the coming century, likely causing a very large increase in sea level that threatens to cause a humanitarian crisis lasting possibly hundreds of years.
January 17, 2013. Forum brings Experts, Municipal Officials Together to Discuss Increasing N.J. Flood Threat. Sustainable Jersey recently hosted a forum for planning experts, municipal officials and researchers at Rutgers University to discuss the challenges posed by climate change and how municipalities should guard themselves against coastal and inland flooding. Dave Robinson, Rutgers Professor and CECI affiliate, said that New Jersey should plan for more extreme weather and rising sea levels, which are estimated to be as much as three feet higher by 2100. Additionally, Lisa Auermuller of the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve and CECI affiliate, is developing a flood mapping tool called NJ Flood Mapper that will help municipal officials to simulate sea level rise in their communities and analyze what areas of their towns will become increasingly vulnerable over the next century.
January 17, 2013. 24th Annual Glen Gerberg Weather and Climate Summit: Rutgers Professor Discusses ‘Wacky Weather’. At a recent annual weather and climate summit held in Breckenridge, Colorado, Rutgers Professor and CECI affiliate Jennifer Francis gave a lecture entitled “Wacky Weather and the Disappearing Arctic Sea Ice: Are They Connected?” in which she presented her research on the effects of melting Arctic ice on the atmosphere, weather and climate for the rest of the globe. Francis detailed the “stunning” loss of Arctic sea ice over the past summer and linked it to the litany of extreme weather events that countries around the globe have experienced over the last year or so. The loss of sea ice in the Arctic means that the ocean absorbs much more energy from the sun than it normally would during the summer months, which has profound implications for moisture levels in the atmosphere and the strength and path of the jet stream. Francis even suggested that this dynamic may have been a driving factor in the intensity and unusual path taken by Hurricane Sandy which recently devastated large areas of the New Jersey and New York coastline.
January 12, 2012. US Scientists in Fresh Alert over Effects of Global Warming. Global warming is already having a major impact on life in America and will likely get worse in the future according to a recently released draft version of the third US National Climate Assessment. The report is by far the bluntest and most uncompromising assessment to date, featuring stark language that reflects the ever growing confidence scientists have in the data linking the burning of fossil fuels to major global climate change and its predicted consequences. Various sectors of the national economy are already under strain including health services, water utilities, farming and transport. The report also notes that events like Hurricane Sandy, which caused severe disruption and damage along the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic coastline, are likely to become far more frequent in the future.
January 8, 2012. Not Even Close: 2012 Was the Hottest Ever in the United States. 2012 was marked by heat waves, drought and extreme weather throughout the year, and as it turns out it was also the hottest year on record in the contiguous United States, by a large margin. Normally, differences in average temperature between years are measured in fractions of a degree but 2012 shattered the previous record set in 1998 by a full degree. Although scientists said that natural variability certainly played a role in last year’s extreme heat, many expressed doubt that the breadth and depth of the new record could have been achieved without the backdrop of climate change. Even more telling is that 2012 featured a La Nińa weather pattern which typically cools the global climate overall, yet scientists expect that once all the data is in, 2012 will still be around the eighth- or ninth-warmest year on record for the overall global climate.
December 2012. Antarctic Quest: Racing to Understand a Changing Ocean. Oscar Schofield, Rutgers IMCS Professor and CECI affiliate, along with Rutgers filmmakers Dena Seidel and Chris Linder have traveled to Antarctica to join the Long Term Ecological Research Team at Palmer Station. They will be making a documentary film while exploring one of the most rapidly warming areas on the planet. Their adventure can be followed on their daily Antarctic Quest Blog.
December 8, 2012. Officials Urge Some Parts of LBI, Toms River to Vacate Instead of Rebuild. At the “Rebuilding A Resilient New Jersey Shore” conference held at Monmouth University on December 7, speakers warned that it may be prudent to vacate some areas along the New Jersey coastline that were hit especially hard by Hurricane Sandy. The combination of rising sea levels and the nature of barrier islands which shift and migrate over time mean that rebuilding in some areas will simply lead to more destruction in the future. Anthony Broccoli, Rutgers University Professor and Director of the Climate ane Environmental Change Initiative, explained how storms in the future significantly weaker than Sandy will produce similar amounts of flooding because of rising sea levels. Other speakers explained that it may take up to ten years to rebuild a smarter, more resilient Jersey Shore and that it is essential not just to repair damaged infrastructure but to implement infrastructure and building standards for the next century that can withstand climate change.
November 24, 2012. Rising Seas, Vanishing Coastlines. Rutgers professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences and CECI affiliate Robert Kopp, co-authored an editorial in the New York Times detailing the hazards of sea level rise in the face of global warming. Hurricane Sandy is expected to be only a modest preview of the dangers to come. Multiple studies were released this summer indicating that sea level is expected to rise dramatically over the coming centuries, even if extreme cuts are made to greenhouse gas emissions. Those living near sea level are increasingly in danger of being flooded by storm surges from storms such as Sandy. In order to protect coastal communities we must pursue a strategy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, building resiliency and defenses, and retreating from certain high risk areas.
November 17, 2012. How Global Warming May Affect Your Allergies. According to a new study led by Rutgers Professor and CECI affiliate Dr. Leonard Bielory, global warming is likely to have a profound impact on allergies. Pollen counts are expected to double over the next few decades and by 2040 the peak of pollen season is expected to occur about a month before the pollen season even began in 2000. The study’s findings suggest that higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are associated with higher levels of pollen production. Additionally, some scientists believe that the pollen itself will become “stronger” than it is today, compounding issues for those with allergies.
November 15, 2012. Why was Sandy so Nasty? Look to the North Pole, Rutgers Expert Tells Morris Plains Audience. Anthony Broccoli, Director of CECI and the Rutgers Center for Environmental Prediction, told a Morris Plains audience that an important factor that contributed to the severity of Hurricane Sandy was that it was unable to spin out to sea because of a high pressure system to the North that originated in the Arctic, where record ice melt was seen earlier this year. He said there could be a connection and pointed to a theory proposed by Rutgers climate scientist and CECI affiliate Jennifer Francis that hypothesizes melting ice in the Arctic Ocean is causing the jet stream to become “wavier”, producing conditions like those seen during Sandy. Broccoli noted that more research was needed to prove the connection, but made clear that hurricanes are expected to become more powerful in the future as a result of global warming.
November 9, 2012. Global Warming May Double Pollen by 2040. By 2040 pollen levels are predicted to increase by about “1.5 to two times the amount of pollen that we have now,” according to Rutgers professor of environmental prediction and CECI affiliate Dr. Leonard Bielory. Pollen production is also expected to start earlier and peak earlier. Bielory explains how climate change will have a major impact on the pollen production of trees and grass due to changing temperature and precipitation patterns.
October 21, 2012. Experts Predict Wet Winter, but Wary of Melting Ice. Forecasters are predicting a wetter and colder winter than normal due to an oncoming El Niño period in the Pacific Ocean, but record low ice cover this summer in the Arctic Ocean is causing a large degree of uncertainty. Although many climate scientists argue there is a link between shrinking Arctic ice and unusual weather patterns, they cannot say where or exactly how it will have the greatest effect. According to research by Rutgers climate scientist and CECI affiliate Jennifer Francis the shrinking Arctic sea ice means weather patterns will move more slowly as a result of a less powerful jet stream. The jet stream draws its strength from the temperature difference between the North Pole and the equator, but with less ice cover the Arctic Ocean absorbs more energy from the sun and its temperature rises, thus decreasing the difference.
October 18, 2012. Rogue Dumping of Iron into Ocean Stirs Controversy. A controversy is brewing over a project conducted by the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation this past July, as some scientists accuse the company of rogue geoengineering. More than 200,000 pounds of iron sulfate were allegedly dumped into the Pacific Ocean as part of an ocean-fertilization scheme in which iron was used to promote the growth of phytoplankton. This has the affect of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere because the phytoplankton take up carbon dioxide at the surface of the ocean and then sink to the bottom. Although some researchers believe that this approach holds promise, the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation has been widely criticized for the way in which it went about the project. According to the UN convention on biological diversity and the London Convention there is an international moratorium on ocean-fertilization. Rutgers climate scientist and CECI affiliate Alan Robock joined many other scientists in criticizing the project, saying that mitigation is the solution to global warming, not geoengineering.
October 15, 2012. Newly Discovered Super-Advanced Biocarbon Device: Anchovy Poop! A new study has found that excrement from small forage fish like anchovies is a fairly effective natural biocarbon storage pump. Such fish feed on photosynthetic phytoplankton which intake carbon dioxide near the ocean’s surface. They then digest and discharge fecal pellets which are heavy enough to sink relatively quickly to the ocean floor where the carbon is stored long term. The study involved researchers including Grace Saba from Rutgers University and others from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and was conducted off the coast of southern California.
October 12, 2012. Some Climate Scientists, in a Shift, Link Weather to Global Warming. The relationship between weather and climate is complex and most climate scientists have until recently been averse to drawing direct lines between individual extreme weather events and climate change. However, in a break with the mainstream scientific consensus, a few prominent climate scientists now argue that there is enough evidence to establish a statistical pattern of extreme weather due to global warming. James Hansen, a climatologist with NASA argues that certain past extreme weather events are highly likely to be attributable to global warming. Public opinion is also shifting, as nearly 75% of Americans said global warming is affecting the weather in the U.S. according to a recent poll released by a scientist at Yale University.
August 2012. Congratulations to Dr. Gail Ashley, Rutgers Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences and Director of the Quaternary Studies Program, who was recently awarded the Geological Society of America Laurence L. Sloss Award. The award is given annually to those whose achievements contribute widely to the field of sedimentary geology and through service to the Geological Society of America.
August 2012. Rutgers-Newark Law Professor Urges Adoption of “Clean” Technologies Over Emissions-Reduction Plans. In his new book Climate Change Policy Failures, CECI affiliate Howard Latin challenges the conventional wisdom of most climate policymakers and environmental groups by arguing that greenhouse gas emission reduction programs are largely ineffectual because such programs adopt a multi-decade emission reduction strategy and postpone major cuts far into the future they have “virtually no chance of achieving genuine climate change progress.” Instead, Latin argues for “a ‘clean’ replacement technology approach,” which would rely on implementing as many greenhouse gas-free technologies, processes and methods as quickly as possible and in as many sectors of the economy as possible. You can hear Professor Latin discuss themes from his book at the October 12th seminar "Climate Policy Failures: Running out of Time" sponsored by our sister initiative the Initiative on Climate and Society.
August 27, 2012. Arctic Sea Ice Shrinks to New Low in Satellite Era. According to scientists from NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Arctic sea ice cover has melted to its lowest extent in the satellite record and may continue melting in the coming weeks. Arctic sea ice cover naturally shrinks during the summer and grows during the winter, but over the last three decades satellites have observed a 13 percent decline per decade in the minimum summertime extent of the sea ice, while the thickness of the ice has also declined. Unlike during the previous record low in 2007, which was caused by an unusually warm summer in the Arctic, temperatures this summer have not been abnormally high. The persistent loss of perennial ice cover has greatly reduced the thickness of the ice, causing it to become far more vulnerable to even average summer temperatures. According Jennifer Francis, Rutgers climate scientist and CECI affiliate, the dramatic changes represent the scientific community’s “worst fears” about climate change and its consequences.
August 24, 2012. ‘Bumper Crop’ of Ragweed Pollen Expected This Year. Rutgers allergy specialist and CECI affiliate Dr. Leonard Bielory predicts a record ragweed season this year, which has begun a week earlier than usual. The ragweed season normally lasts two to three weeks but this year it could last for up to two months. Pollen levels are likely to remain in the moderate to severe range into the near future.
August 16, 2012. Severe Storms Prompted by Climate Change Require New Development Policies. Barry Chalosky, former chief of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s storm water and ground water programs and adjunct professor at Rutgers University, says that state, county and local governments need to work together to plan for the impacts of climate change. New Jersey is highly vulnerable to the affects of climate change according to Marjorie Kaplan, Associate Director of CECI, and Jeanne Herb from the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and CECI affiliate. In the future, residents of New Jersey can expect heat waves, rising seas, more frequent flooding and greater coastal impacts from storm events.
August 8, 2012. American Meteorological Society Information Statement on Climate Change. The American Meteorological Society (AMS) has updated its 2007 statement on climate change. The AMS statement is intended to be a scientifically up-to-date and objective overview of how and why the global climate has changed over the last century and why it will continue to change in the future, is based on peer-reviewed scientific literature and has been adopted as the official stance of the AMS towards climate change. In the statement the AMS affirms that warming of the global climate system is now unequivocal and that many of the observed changes are beyond what can be explained by natural variability. The dominant cause of the comparatively rapid change in climate over the past century has been human-induced increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases, most notably carbon dioxide due to its persistence in the atmosphere. As a result, observed average temperatures on land, in the ocean, and in the lower atmosphere have all increased significantly over the last century. Such increases in average temperature will continue into the future with serious consequences such as melting glaciers, rising sea level, and disrupted weather patterns.
August 2, 2012. Farmer Believes Government at Fault for Drought’s Consequences. Approximately two thirds of all counties in the United States are in a state of severe drought, while more than half have been designated as primary disaster areas by the Department of Agriculture. Rutgers climate scientist and CECI affiliate Jennifer Francis says the drought falls in line with what climate models have been predicting. As carbon dioxide continues to accumulate in the atmosphere and drive global climate change, conditions in the southwest and central part of the United States are expected to become drier and experience more frequent heat waves.
August 3, 2012. Hay Fever Season Is About To Explode in New Jersey. According to Rutgers allergy specialist and CECI affiliate Dr. Leonard Bielory the looming hay fever season promises to be very intense as a result of extreme moisture caused by a combination of thunderstorms and high temperatures. The high moisture levels have contributed to an explosive growth in mold spores, as well as contributed to the pervasive growth of ragweed, mudwort and other allergy causing plants. Ragweed in particular affects many people and has migrated north over the last few decades, contributing to a hay fever season that starts up to 3 weeks earlier than it did 25 years ago.
July 27, 2012. Higher Sea Level Will Intensify Storm Damage. Over the coming century sea level is predicted to rise anywhere from 1.5 feet to 4 feet as a result of climate change, according to Rutgers professor and CECI Director Tony Broccoli. The degree to which the ocean rises by the end of the century depends on several factors, including how rapidly ice melts in Greenland and Antarctica, whether greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and whether the land is sinking or rising in particular areas. A higher sea level, coupled with the increasing probability of stronger storms as a result of climate change, is predicted to have a major impact on New Jersey. The state can expect more frequent and extensive storm surges, with the potential to cause major damage to developed areas along the coast.
July 2012. State of the Climate in 2011. The National Climate Data Center has released its annual State of the Climate report for 2011. The report details global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected around the world through various methods. The lead characteristic of the 2011 climate picture was a double-dip La Niña, which is the cool phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and usually lowers global average surface temperatures. Despite this, 2011 still ranked near the top of the hottest years on record when taken in historical context and was above the 1981-2010 global average. Notable weather events included the worst flooding in Thailand in 70 years, drought and deadly tornado outbreaks in the United States, devastating flooding in Brazil, an extreme summer heat wave in Central and Southern Europe, an unusually active Atlantic hurricane season, and drought in East Africa.
July 2012. Explaining Extreme Events of 2011 from a Climate Perspective. An article in the July 2012 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society that included researchers from NOAA was issued to help supplement the National Climate Data Center’s annual State of the Climate report and address the relationship between extreme weather events and climate change. Assessing such a relationship in near real-time is a difficult and complex task. The report analyzes six specific extreme weather events in 2011 by placing them in historical context, attempting to quantify the role human factors may have played and calculating the odds that the particular event was caused or influenced by climate change. A novel way of conceptualizing the relationship between extreme weather and climate change, developed with the help of Rutgers Professor and CECI Director Tony Broccoli, is to compare it to baseball and the use of steroids.
July 17, 2012. U.S. Drought Biggest Since 1956, Climate Agency Says. In its monthly climate report for June 2012 the National Climate Data Center says that 55% of the contiguous United States was in a state of moderate to extreme short-term drought, the largest area in a drought state since 1956. The Lower 48 states, as a whole, experienced the 10th driest June on record, with much of the Mountain West in severe drought conditions. Temperatures were 2.0°F above the 20th century average for the month of June and contributed to the warmest first half of the year, as well as warmest 12-month period the nation has experienced since record keeping began in 1895. In addition to extensive wildfires, drought conditions have caused major harm to crop yields across the Midwest which threaten to impact global food supplies and increase prices for consumers.
June 12, 2012. New Holey Material Soaks Up CO2. A team of researchers at the universities of Nottingham and Newcastle in the UK have developed a new type of material that can preferentially soak up CO2 from the atmosphere. The material, called NOTT-202, is described as a “metal-organic framework” that works like a sponge by absorbing gases at high pressures. As the pressure is reduced, the material retains CO2 while other gases are released. The new technology is expected to greatly benefit the development of carbon capture and storage systems, as well as potentially help remove CO2 from the exhaust of power plants and factories.
June 7, 2012. Congratulations to CECI Affiliate and associate professor of marine and coastal Sciences, Liz Sikes, who received a prestigious Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg fellowship. Along with colleagues from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research at the University of Bremen and the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Dr. Sikes will be collaborating on a joint research project, “Sources and fate of detrital particulate carbon in a coastal plain estuary,” which aims to investigate carbon cycling in the Delaware River estuary to assess burial (sequestration) versus biological re-mineralization of carbon along the estuary’s chemical gradient. The goal of the project is to improve understanding of carbon budgets within estuaries as well as the influence of estuarine processing on carbon that is delivered to the ocean. Read more about Dr. Sikes' fellowship.
May 2012. CECI Affiliate and Rutgers Assistant Research Professor of Human Ecology, Dr. Melanie McDermott, gave a presentation entitled “Reining in REDD: defending equity by defining it” at the ICARUS III conference on Climate Adaptation and Vulnerability held at Columbia University May 18-20. Dr. McDermott is also the Associate Director of the Rutgers Initiative on Climate and Society.
May 19, 2012. CECI Affiliate and Rutgers Assistant Professor of Human Ecology, Dr. Pamela McElwee, gave a presentation entitled “Assessing adaptation pathways in climate vulnerable Vietnam” at the Initiative on Climate Adaptation Research and Understanding through the Social Sciences conference in New York City.
2012-2013 Fulbright NEXUS Regional Scholar Program in the Western Hemisphere applications being accepted. Deadline June 15, 2012. Projects focusing on climate change adaptation strategies and /or public policy focused research ventures that examine strategies to cope with climate variability, including extreme events are particularly welcome. Innovative model for scholarly exchange and science informing policy. For early or mid-career academics, applied researchers and/or professionals with research experience in the public, non-profit, or private sector in the topics of Science, Technology and Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Energy. Applicants must be conducting current research relevant to these themes. See http://www.cies.org/NEXUS for complete information.
May 31, 2012. Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Levels hit 400 PPM. Global levels of carbon dioxide are reaching alarming new heights as monitoring stations across the Arctic this spring have been measuring more than 400 ppm in the atmosphere according to The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor. The Arctic is considered a leading indicator for atmospheric greenhouse gas trends. Many scientists say that 350 ppm is the highest safe level for carbon dioxide however the global average now stands at 395 ppm. The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were so high was at least 800,000 years ago. Before the Industrial Age, global levels were around 275 ppm but have grown steadily over the last 100 years primarily as a result of humans burning fossil fuels such coal and oil. In addition to high carbon dioxide readings, NOAA has stated that the spring of 2012 has been the warmest U.S. spring on record and that 2012 is on pace to be the warmest year on record since recordings began in 1895.
May 25, 2012. Poll: Majority of N.J. Residents Call Climate Change a ‘Real Concern,’ Want Government to Take Larger Role. According to a new Kean University/NJ Speaks poll, New Jersey residents overwhelmingly view climate change and global warming as a serious threat and believe that government should play a larger role in protecting the environment. Of those surveyed, 71 percent were concerned about the possible effects of climate change and global warming, while 69 percent of those who expressed concern also believed human activity has contributed to global warming and other environmental problems. Additionally, 66 percent of respondents said government should take a larger role when it comes to protecting the environment.
May 18, 2012. Tiles May Help Shrink Carbon Footprint by Harnessing Pedestrian Power. The kinetic energy from the footsteps of pedestrians is being harnessed by special floor tiles developed by the London based technology startup Pavegen Systems. The tiles are 17.7-by-23.6 inches and are designed to be installed in crowded public areas such as airports, schools, malls, subway stations or anywhere else where pedestrians congregate en masse. The electricity generated from harnessing millions of footfalls is enough to power low-demand appliances such as lighting, signs, digital ads and Wi-Fi zones. Although this type of technology is not entirely new, company founder Laurence Kemball-Cook claims that his design is 200 times more efficient than rival products and capable of being produced on a mass scale so as to reduce costs to an affordable level. It is hoped that the proliferation of such technology can help reduce carbon emissions by helping offset the need for fossil fuel based electricity.
May 3, 2012. CECI affiliate, Dr. Bonnie McCay, professor II in the department of human ecology, has been elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences. Congratulations to Professor McCay!
April 17, 2012. Suddenly Dry: Weather Experts Concerned as Drought Conditions Wring out New Jersey. According to state climatologist and Rutgers Department of Geography Professor Dr. Dave Robinson, New Jersey is in the early stages of a drought. In 2011, the state experienced its wettest year in history but over the first three months of 2012 precipitation levels have been over 4 inches below average and precipitation levels in April have also been significantly below average. Additionally, temperatures have been abnormally high — the state is experiencing one of the warmest starts to a year on record. The lack of rainfall is beginning to cause stream flow, soil moisture, and groundwater levels to fall below average.
April 17, 2012. New Study Shows Americans Connecting Extreme Weather to Climate Change. Although scientists are usually hesitant to directly link individual extreme weather events to global warming, a new poll finds that a large majority of the public believes abnormal weather experienced across the nation in recent years is at least partially the result of global warming. The survey, which is the most detailed to date on the public’s response to weather extremes, suggests that direct experience with erratic weather may be convincing people that global warming is no longer a distant or vague threat. When invited to agree or disagree with the statement “global warming is affecting the weather in the United States,” 69 percent of respondents said they agreed. In 2011, droughts, floods, tornadoes and heat waves affected virtually every region of the United States. The survey was commissioned by Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, along with researchers from the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication.
April 5, 2012. Rutgers Expert Says Allergy Season Blooms Early Again This Year. Dr. Leonard Bielory, an allergy specialist with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and the Rutgers Center for Environmental Prediction, says that pollen season this year has started unusually early and has come on stronger than normal. Pollen levels in March for the New York/New Jersey area were the highest they have been in 25 years. The Pollen Count in New Jersey is Breaking Records, which is in addition to the fact that it was the warmest March on record according New Jersey State Climatologist and Rutgers Professor Dave Robinson.
April 5, 2012. L.A.: Regional Planners Shift Focus Off Freeways. The Southern California Association of Governments, which oversees transportation for most of Southern California, unanimously voted to approved a $524 billion, 25-year Regional Transportation Plan that aims to increase mobility in one of the most congested areas of the nation, as well as reduce carbon emissions. The plan calls for major investments in public transit, regional rail systems, pedestrian and bike paths, as well as policies to shift housing development towards public transit hubs. The plan is expected to reduce per capita vehicle-related greenhouse gas emissions in the six-county area 9 percent by 2020 and 16 percent by 2035 relative to 2005 levels.
April 5, 2012. North America’s Largest Rooftop Solar Power Plant Formally Completed. The largest photovoltaic rooftop solar project in North America has been formally completed in Gloucester, NJ. It was announce by U.S. Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ) who presented Riverside Renewable Energy, LLC with an $11 million federal tax credit rebate for completing the $42 million project. The solar panels sit atop 1.1 million square feet of rooftop at the Gloucester Marine Terminal - enough to power more than 1,500 homes and are expected to offset more than 8,100 tons of carbon dioxide. The pioneering project, which is supported by federal and state business incentives for alternative energy, had to overcome numerous obstacles because the Terminal sits at a high-wind location along the Delaware River that also happens to be a Superfund site.
March 29, 2012
Rutgers University climate change conference "Extreme Weather and Climate Change" featured in "Weather Report: Wild With a Chance of Record Heat, Precipitation". The conference, co-sponsored by the Rutgers Climate and Environmental Change Initiative and the Rutgers Initiative on Climate and Society was aimed at addressing the risks associated with an increase in extreme weather events caused by climate change. Among other things, panelists described the risks posed to the nation’s infrastructure, as well as touched on New Jersey’s recent spate of unusual weather. Even so, panelists stressed the current difficulty in attributing single weather events directly to global warming.
March 29, 2012
NY Times published a recent article addressing "Weather Weirding," particularly as it relates to the present month of March and the future outlook. Rutgers University’s climate change researcher, Jennifer A. Francis commented on the issue of sea ice loss and its role in climate change. Dr. Francis presented research published this month suggesting that the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice (40% since the 1980s or 1.3 million square miles) which has increased the area of ocean available to absorb heat and subsequently release it into the atmosphere in fall and early winter, affects jet stream patterns enabling certain weather patterns to persistent such as droughts, floods, heat waves and cold spells.
March 28, 2012
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its report on “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation”. The IPCC report concludes that evidence suggests that climate change has led to changes in climate extremes such as heat waves, record high temperatures, and heavy precipitation over the past 50 years. When climate extremes are combined with existing socioeconomic vulnerabilities, the potential for climate-related disasters is increased greatly. The report aims to help policymakers prepare for, respond to and recover from extreme weather events that may result in natural disasters through risk management and adaptation strategies.
March 19, 2012
"Global Sea Level Likely to Rise as Much as 70 Feet for Future Generations". Rutgers researchers, led by Rutgers Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences Kenneth Miller, published a study titled "High Tide of the Warm Pliocene: Implications of Global Sea Level for Antarctic Deglaciation", warning that global sea levels will rise by as much as 70 feet over the coming centuries even if humankind were able to limit global warming to only 2 degrees C. By the end of the 21st century it is predicted that current levels will have risen 2 to 3 feet due to a combination of a warming ocean, melting glaciers, and melting ice pack in Greenland and Antarctica. The research was based on an analysis of the earth's atmosphere during the Pilocene epoch, some 2.7 to 3.5 million years ago. By studying rock and soil samples from around the world, researchers were able to conclude that at current CO2 levels the natural state of the planet's oceans is about 20 meters higher than present sea levels. Other Rutgers faculty involved in the research were James Wright, Associate Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences; James Browning, Assistant Research Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences; and Yair Rosenthal, Professor of Marine Science.
March 13, 2012
“Rising Sea Levels Seen as Threat to Coastal U.S.” According to a new research project titled “Surging Seas”, created by the Princeton-based nonprofit organization Climate Central, coastal flooding due to rising sea levels over the coming century threatens numerous major population centers along the U.S. coastline. Currently about 3.7 million Americans live within a few feet of high tide and are considered at risk. Florida was found to be the most vulnerable state, but Louisiana, California, New York, and New Jersey are also particularly vulnerable. As average global temperatures rise due to global warming, the ocean will also rise due to melting ice packs around the world and heat absorption by the ocean’s water. As the sea level rises, storm surges are expected to get worse and previously rare flooding events may become common occurrences. Some areas along the U.S. coastline may become permanently inundated. Climate Central offers an interactive tool identifying the level of increased risk for individual U.S. coastal cities and communities.
February 18, 2012
Congratulations to Professor Anthony Broccoli, Rutgers Department of Environmental Science, for being selected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in recognition of his research on climate modeling. The AAAS officially inducted their new fellows on February 18, 2012 at the Fellows Forum during its Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Congratulations to Professor Dave Robinson (left), Rutgers Department of Geography and Professor Anthony Broccoli (right), Rutgers Department of Environmental Science, who were elected Fellows of the American Meteorological Society. They were honored at the 92nd Annual Review and Fellows Awards on January 22, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.