News in February 2018
Crumbling infrastructure and limited public funding across the US have led to the enlistment of private companies to handle water systems, causing increases in cost without an improvement to services. Additionally, in many large cities, levels of lead have risen to concentrations harmful to human health. According to RCI affiliate Daniel Van Abs, its not clear if higher costs are due to improvements in service or due to overbuilding infrastructure that isn’t needed.
Melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are accelerating sea level rise, according to research of satellite data. So far, Greenland has contributed three times as much sea level rise than Antarctica, but according to RCI affiliate Robert Kopp Antarctica seems less stable now than thought so a few years ago.
RCI co-director Anthony Broccoli is a co-author of a study that determined that extra tropical cyclones generate most of the large storm surges in the northeast, as reported in Rutgers Today. Rutgers Greenberg Fellow, graduate student Arielle Catalano was the first author on the work which found that the biggest surges developed when slow moving extratropical cyclones encounter high pressure, leading to a tight pressure gradient and longer-lasting onshore winds.
Congratulations to RCI affiliate Paul Falkowski, one of the two recipients awarded the 2018 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for his contributions to fighting climate change through increasing scientific understanding of how Earth’s climate works. Falkowski has published numerous papers on the role played by microbes in shaping Earth’s global climate cycle.
The risk of flooding will increase in the future to climate change, and threats to 1400 chemical facilities near waterways will become far greater according to the NY Times. Federal law does not explicitly require sites in floodplains handling toxic chemicals to take extra precautions against flooding, but as RCI affiliate Jeanne Herb points out, more often than not, sites with hazardous chemicals are nearby a body of water.
New findings published in PNAS, which include RCI affiliate Paul Falkowski among other Rutgers scientists found four chemical structures that make up the proteins inside every living organism, dubbed the ‘legos of life’. The study’s findings could lead to applications in biomedical engineering or the development of catalysts for industrial and energy use.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order mandating the NJDEP and state Board of Public Utilities reenter the state into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI); the regional carbon cap and trade program of which New Jersey had been a charter member until its withdrawal in 2011. RCI affiliate Jeanne Herb and Associate Director, Marjorie Kaplan are quoted in ThinkProgress.
Volcanic eruptions are an excellent analog for geoengineering efforts, which could be employed to offset global warming as noted in the NY Times, which reports on planning by NASA for a rapid response program to study volcanic eruptions. RCI affiliate Alan Robock discusses the parallels and the importance of understanding the climatic effect of volcanic eruptions.
Congratulations to RCI affiliate Daniel Van Abs, whose research was referenced in the final report of the Joint Legislative Task Force on Drinking Water Infrastructure, which was approved on January 8, 2018. The task force was charged with studying and making recommendations concerning issues related to drinking water infrastructure in New Jersey, and identifying both short-term and long-term solutions to address the quality and condition of drinking water infrastructure in the State.
Congratulations to RCI affiliate Mike Kennish who served as a guest lead editor of the special Estuaries and Coasts thematic issue titled ‘The National Estuarine Research Reserve System: An Integrated Network of Research and Monitoring Sites Supporting Coastal Zone Management’.