2012 News Archive
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 and 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 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 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. 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 Â 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 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.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.
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 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.
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 approve 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 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.