2013 News Archive
The Center for Maritime Research (MARE)—People and the Sea VII Conference. Rutgers Ph.D. student in the Department of Geography, Ariele Baker, recently attended the 7th People and the Sea Conference in Amsterdam this past June through a travel grant provided by the Rutgers Climate and Environmental Change Initiative. The conference was sponsored by the Center for Maritime Research. Ariele, along with two other Rutgers Ph.D. students, Angela Oberg, student in Planning at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, and Julia Flagg, a PhD student in Sociology at Rutgers. They were part of an interdisciplinary team researching the effects of Hurricane Sandy on fishing communities in New Jersey. Their research is focused on the ways different fishing communities experienced Sandy, with preliminary results showing differential effects between commercial and recreational fishing communities.
Getting to Resilience. This online community planning evaluation tool is aimed at assisting communities to help reduce their vulnerability to climate change and increase preparedness by linking planning, mitigation, and adaptation. Through this assessment officials can learn how preparedness can be worth valuable points through FEMA’s Community Rating System and Sustainable Jersey.
Rutgers EcoComplex Wins Grant from EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program. The Rutgers EcoComplex has been awarded a grant by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program to undertake a comprehensive assessment of landfills and their related methane emissions in Turkey. The project will help build local capacity and involve relevant stakeholders while also documenting the characteristics of Turkish landfills in order to determine the amount of uncontrolled methane emissions from such locations. The project’s Principal Investigator will be Serpil Guran, Director of the Rutgers EcoComplex, while project management will be headed by Dave Specca. Contributing Rutgers faculty members also include Prof. Kevin Lyons and Prof. Mark Robson.
Scholarship for Students to Attend NJAFM Annual Conference. The New Jersey Association for Floodplain Management is supporting the education of undergraduate and graduate students interested in floodplain management by offering scholarships to the 2013 NJAFM Conference being held October 16-17 at the REVEL in Atlantic City, NJ. For more information and to apply click here.
100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge. To enable 100 cities to better address the increasing shocks and stresses of the 21st century, the Rockefeller Foundation has launched the 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge. One hundred cities from across the globe will be selected to receive technical support and resources for developing and implementing plans for urban resilience. Municipal government leaders or major institutions that have a predominant association with a city and demonstrate collaborative partnership with a municipal government are encouraged to apply. For more information and to start the registration process click here. Registration Deadline: September 23, 2013.
Congratulations to CECI Affiliate, Professor Barbara Turpin for being selected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union for “visionary thinking about the role of aqueous chemistry in the formation of organic aerosol.” This prestigious honoris given out to no more than 0.1% of all AGU members in a given year
August 6, 2013. Study Reveals Longer and Overlapping Pollen Seasons Related to Seasonal Warming. CECI affiliate, Leonard Bielory, M.D., a board certified specialist in allergy and immunology with the Rutgers University Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital has been leading multiple studies as part of his federal research funding to examine the impact of “Climate Change on Allergic Airway Disease.” The study predicts that allergy seasons are likely to become longer and more intense as a result of climate change which will cause plants to produce higher quantities of pollen and at earlier points in the year.
August 6, 2013. Rutgers researcher explores cooling atmosphere of Southeast Unites States. Annmarie Carlton, a professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and CECI affiliate, has been in Alabama conducting a study focused on revealing why certain parts of the country are actually cooling rather than warming along with global climate change trends. The research suggests that organic compounds in the atmosphere emitted by forests interact with emissions from human activities to form ozone which effectively blocks out the sun.
August 2, 2013. NOAA: State of Climate in 2012. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has recently released the 2012 State of the Climate report. The report, designed to inform both the public and private sectors, provides up-to-date information on climate trends including temperature patterns, changes in the cryosphere, and sea level changes. The peer reviewed report, compiled by scientists across the world, provides a reliable update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments on land, sea, ice, and sky.Â 2012 was one of the 10 warmest years on record worldwide. One of the defining events of the year was that Arctic sea ice melted to its lowest extent ever recorded. The Greenland ice sheet was also observed to exhibit some form of melt over 97 percent of its area during a two day span in July 2012. Atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations rose after a period of slight decline associated with the global economic downturn, with concentrations exceeding 400 ppm at several Arctic observational sites.Â . Click here to read the highlights of the report, or click here to download the full report.
August 2, 2013. Our Once and Future Oceans: Taking Lessons From Earth’s Past. In an effort to predict how earth’s ocean’s will be affected by rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, scientists are looking to a period of the earth’s history over 50 million ago when the planet was much hotter and carbon dioxide levels were much higher for clues. Paul Falkowski, a professor at Rutgers University notes that there could be significant changes to all the planet’s ecosystems as a result of changes to the ocean’s chemistry and hydrological processes.
July 29, 2013. Global Warming, Development Lure Jellyfish to Barnegat Bay. According to Rutgers research Mike Kennish, a research professor with the Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences as well as a CECI affiliate, Barnegat Bay has been experiencing increased numbers of stinging jellyfish over recent years as a result of global warming and coastal development.Â
July 29, 2013. July expected to be among N.J.’s Top 10 hottest ever for 4th year straight. The last four Julys in New Jersey have been among the hottest ever recorded in the state, a trend that mirrors worldwide changes. Not only is summer becoming hotter at its peak but it is also covering a longer time period with June and September increasingly taking on summerlike characteristics. These changes have important impacts on the management of electric and water utilities. The state climatologist at Rutgers University and CECI affiliate Dave Robinson says that the changes are “remarkable” and that "it’s undeniable that New Jersey has gotten warmer."
July 29, 2013. Longer pollen seasons nothing to sneeze at. As a result of climate change, the pollen production of plants that commonly cause allergies is becoming more potent and lasting for longer periods of time. Warmer temperatures and increasing carbon dioxide concentrations are causing plants to produce more pollen and at earlier points in the year. Rutgers professor of environmental sciences and CECI affiliate Leonard Bielory has recorded the highest pollen levels this year in over a quarter century of monitoring which he notes could possibly be due to heavy precipitation events from last year such as Sandy.
July 8, 2013. Powering the Future: Will Algae Fuel Your Next Car? Scientists’ are increasingly looking to algae for its potential to replace petroleum because it is considered a carbon neutral energy source and does not compete with food crops in the way other biofuels such as corn-derived ethanol or vegetable oil do. Rutgers has one of the largest algae research centers in the nation where a team of researchers lead by Director of the Rutgers Energy Institute, Paul Falkowski is attempting to make algae more efficient in producing usable biofuel through genetic modification.
July 8, 2013. New Jersey Supreme Court Side with Harvey Cedars in Dune Compensation Case. The New Jersey Supreme Court has unanimously sided with the Borough of Harvey Cedars in an important case regarding the proper degree of compensation owed to homeowners in cases where eminent domain is applied to construct protective sand dunes along the shore. Lower courts had previously ruled that homeowners were due potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars per case for decreased property value associated with the construction of dunes. However, the N.J. Supreme Court ruled that the protective benefits derived from such dunes should be included in the calculation of the compensation packages, thus drastically reducing their potential payout. The ruling is considered a victory for municipalities along the shore who faced potentially prohibitive costs in implementing protective barriers and beach replenishment projects if the lower court ruling had stood.
July 1, 2013. Rutgers Film Bureau Tackles Most Exciting and Weighty Issues of Our Time. A Rutgers student film crew has been on location in Alabama to document the research of Rutgers Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and CECI affiliate Annmarie Carlton who is currently conducting experiments to help explain why the climate in this particular area is cooling rather than warming as it is across the globe. The current hypothesis is that chemicals produced by a particular forest in Alabama are combining with man-made chemicals to create a layer in the atmosphere that blocks the sun’s rays.
July 1, 2013. Ask a State Climatologist: Q & A with New Jersey’s David Robinson. As part of the Washington Post’s recently installed column “Ask a State Climatologist,” New Jersey State Climatologist and CECI affiliate Dave Robinson was asked about his day-to-day responsibilities, current research projects and recent weather patterns experienced in the State of New Jersey.
July 1, 2013. Incredible Technology: How to Engineer the Climate. The idea of using geoengineering to combat man-made climate change in the future is an extremely controversial scientific issue. Many scientists argue that the risks far outweigh the potential benefits, while some say that geoengineering could be a viable last ditch effort to help save the planet from the possibility of catastrophic climate change. Rutgers Professor of Environmental Sciences and CECI affiliate Alan Robock contends that at a minimum virtual testing of geoengineered solutions using existing climate models should be conducted in order to collect information on potential risks and benefits.
Social scientists came together at the Garrison Institute to discuss how receptive people are to energy saving techniques. Rutgers Professor and CECI Affiliate, Rachael Shwom, stated that people are more inclined to save energy when prompted by social media which helps the public to set personal goals to achieve energy savings. Professor Shwom examined the subgroup of motherhood, "I became a mom, and I felt really tired." She didn't feel like making the same effort to recycle, for instance, and she started noticing other exhausted mothers on Facebook saying things like, “I’m an environmentalist, but when I have kids all I want to do is move to the suburbs and throw my kids out on the lawn.” Or, “Yeah, I want an SUV so I don’t have to bend down to put my kids in.” But, when comparing mothers and non-mothers groups, she found that there was virtually no difference between the groups though research is ongoing. For more information click here.
June 25, 2013. Weather Extremes Tied to Jet Stream. Over the course of the past few years the jet stream that drives weather systems over the Northern Hemisphere has been acting in increasingly unexpected ways leading to volatile and seemingly paradoxical weather events, according to Rutgers climate scientist and CECI affiliate Jennifer Francis. This past June the town of McGrath, Alaska recorded an all-time high of 94 degrees Fahrenheit when just a few weeks earlier temperatures were as low as 15 degrees which was an all-time low for so late in the year. Francis argues that changing conditions in the arctic are causing the jet stream to slow down and become wavier, dipping further North and South than is typical. The theory is drawing increasing attention from scientists who say it could help explain recent trends of unusual weather which include flooding in Alberta, Canada and early season wildfires in California.
June 18, 2013 Revised FEMA Maps Cheered by Shore Residents, Criticized by Environmentalists
The new Federal Emergency Management Agency flood maps give less strict requirements for rebuilding after Sandy, but environmentalists fear the consequences. A lower elevation requirement decreases the cost of rebuilding and flood insurance. Residents are finally ready to start building with the new restrictions and are ready to move on with their lives. However, many residents were opposed to the new restrictions. Rutgers Environmental Monitoring Professor and CECI affiliate Richard Lathrop states, “I think there was a rush to get out some of the information that maybe wasn’t ready for primetime.” For more information click here.
June 18, 2013 Rain Triples the Norm in Much of N.J.
Are you sick of rainy days? It has largely felt like every day in June has had its rain spell. Halfway through June we were within 2 inches of the New Jersey record for rainfall in June. The New Jersey state climatologist at Rutgers and CECI affiliate, David A. Robinson, indicates that with the increased rain, we could be wetter than normal for the month. For more information click here.
June 11, 2013. Bloomberg Outlines $20 Billion Storm Protection Plan. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced an ambitious plan to build an extensive network of flood walls, levees and bulkheads along New York City’s 520 miles of coastline in an effort prepare the city for the threat of rising sea levels and powerful storm surges. The plan also calls for fortifying existing infrastructure and carries a total cost that is likely to exceed $20 billion if the vision outlined by the report is fully implemented.
May 23, 2013. Nearly 75 Percent of N.J. Residents Concerned About Climate Change, but Few Want to Pay for Needed Changes. According to a new poll released by the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy during the recent climate change conference held at Rutgers University, nearly three quarters of New Jerseyans are now concerned about how climate change may affect the state and believe that government should take steps to fortify infrastructure against extreme weather. Despite this, there is very little public support for raising money to pay for such policy initiatives. The survey also showed that Hurricane Sandy was major reason for the high level of public concern. The poll was released at the “Climate Change in New Jersey: Leading Practices and Policy Priorities” conference which was organized by the New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance. The conference hosted a variety of speakers, including Rutgers Climatologist and Director of CECI Anthony Broccoli, who described changes to New Jersey’s climate over the past 100 years, including an increase in average temperatures of two degrees Celsius, which has accelerated in recent decades.
May 23, 2013. Can New Jersey Insure Against the Next Sandy? One of the many creative ideas raised at the recent climate change conference held at Rutgers University, was the prospect of the state of New Jersey, as well as its various municipalities, taking out disaster-specific insurance policies to help guard against the future costs of climate change. Doing so has the potential to defray the costs of sea level rise and extreme weather events similar to Hurricane Sandy, especially for areas along the shore. Innovative insurance policies were just one of many topics covered at the conference, “Climate Change in New Jersey: Leading Practices and Policy Priorities,” as its primary aim was to bring officials and experts together from various fields in order to facilitate the cross-pollination of ideas, according to Associate Director of CECI Marjorie Kaplan.
May 22, 2013. Prepare or Go Under: Rutgers University Report Warns Without Investments, Shore Homes Will Still Be Storm Targets. According to a new report from Rutgers University focusing on Ocean County's economic risks from climate change, many shore communities are likely to face similar economic consequences left behind by Hurricane Sandy in the future if improvements are not made to residential and public infrastructure. Although the costs may seem high for improvements like elevating homes, improving drainage systems and wave barriers, and restoring wetlands to act as storm buffers, the long term costs of not taking such actions are potentially much higher. The report was written by a team of Rutgers researchers led by economic geographer and CECI affiliate Robin Leichenko.
May 10, 2013. Carbon Dioxide Passes Symbolic Mark. For the first time in human history, atmospheric Carbon Dioxide emissions have exceeded 400 ppm. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) facility in Hawaii recently registered a carbon dioxide concentration 400.03 ppm which is believed to be the highest concentration in some three to five million years. Scientists say that periods with high CO2 concentrations are also strongly correlated with warmer climates, while certain environmentalists groups say that 350 ppm is the highest safe level of CO2 acceptable in order to avoid catastrophic climate consequences.
April 15, 2013. EPA: U.S. Greenhouse Gases Drop 1.6% from 2010 to 2011. The Environmental Protection Agency says that greenhouse gas emissions in the United States declined 1.6% from 2010 to 2011, continuing a trend that has seen greenhouse gas emissions fall 6.9% since 2005. The decline is mostly due to power plants switching from burning coal to natural gas which emits less carbon dioxide.
April 2, 2013. Outlets Provide Spots for Students to Recharge Cars. Thanks to a partnership between the University and the companies ChargePoint and Ecotality, there are currently solar-powered electric car charging stations operating on Busch, Cook, and Livingston campuses. The charging stations were provided by the companies in order to collect data that could be used to help improve the lifespan and range of electric car batteries. Faculty and students with electric cars are encouraged to use the charging stations.
March 21, 2013. Abundant Pollen Will Trigger Intense Allergy Suffering. Historical models indicate that the pollen season has been delayed due to large amounts of precipitation this past fall and winter, but is likely to ratchet up quickly as everything blooms at once and causes pollen counts to skyrocket. Leonard Bielory, a Rutgers professor at the Center for Environmental Prediction and CECI affiliate, explains that moisture from Hurricane Sandy and other winter storms are having a major impact on this spring's allergy season.
March 11, 2013. With Less Arctic Ice, More Storms Like Sandy. According to Rutgers research professor and CECI affiliate Jennifer Francis, melting Arctic sea ice caused by global warming is driving changes to the jet stream and helped create the conditions that made Superstorm Sandy possible. Francis explains that since Arctic sea ice began to melt at dramatic rates, the path of the jet stream has become wavier and has dipped further south, causing changes to regional weather patterns.
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. 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 thatÂ 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 Niña 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.