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What the Rutgers Climate Institute Can Achieve


Rutgers is pooling its expertise to focus on the effects of climate change at home and around the globe.

Climate change is emerging as the top environmental issue of the 21st century. Globally, regionally, and locally, changes in our climate are already apparent, affecting all cultures and ecosystems, and changes will become more profound in the coming decades. The magnitude of future climate change is largely dependent upon our energy consumption choices from this day forward. Yet, because of our past greenhouse gas emissions, we are already committed to significant changes in Earth's climate over the next 50 years.  The rate of sea level rise has been accelerating and is now a little bit more than twice as large as the 20th century global average and expected to increase.  Because of rising sea levels, coastal storms yield more flooding today than similar storms just 50 years ago.  Increased heat and extremes in precipitation (too much or too little) threaten human health, agriculture, fisheries, forests, water resources, the built environment, terrestrial and aquatic species and coastlines.

Adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change will require the cooperation of individuals, corporations, and governments worldwide. While a growing number of organizations have begun to recognize and acknowledge the reality of anthropogenic climate change, many questions remain: How much will the climate change both globally and locally? How will our environment, ecosystems, and infrastructure be affected? How can communities, states, and nations best prepare and adapt for the changes ahead? To what degree does climate change factor into extreme events like Hurricane Irene or Hurricane sandy and what can we expect in the future for our region? As a densely populated coastal state, New Jersey provides an excellent laboratory for fundamental and applied research, education and outreach that will have global utility.

Rutgers is a longstanding leader in environmental research and education, and is therefore uniquely poised to address these questions with both breadth and depth. The Rutgers Climate Institute is a university-wide effort that brings together faculty members from a wide range of disciplines--from oceanography to sociology-- and so by its very nature it is designed to foster innovative research and education with the broad perspective necessitated by the urgency of climate issues.

Rutgers Climate Institute is guided by these goals:

  • To understand the mechanisms that drive global and regional climate change;
  • To understand the human and social dimensions of climate change, including how social, economic, political, cultural, and behavioral factors drive climate change, shape vulnerabilities, and condition response strategies;
  • To study the impacts of climate change, particularly its effects on densely populated, coastal regions;
  • To inform and educate society about the causes and consequences of climate change.

The Rutgers Climate Institute’s aim is to facilitate partnerships, programs and innovative multidisciplinary research and education. Support for the Rutgers Climate Institute enables the development of such partnerships and programs, allowing graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty to address cutting-edge issues that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries. Such interdisciplinary collaboration is increasingly important so that Rutgers can provide the knowledge base for assessing New Jersey's vulnerability to climate change and the appropriate responses to adaptation planning in a variety of sectors including: public health, built infrastructure, agriculture, natural resources, coastal communities, freshwater systems and water supply. Rutgers Climate Institute support also enables curriculum development at the undergraduate and graduate levels that will integrate the natural and social sciences.

Another area of development within the Rutgers Climate Institute is education and workforce development, ranging from lesson planning and teacher training for K-12 education, to enhancing undergraduate education to working with business leaders to anticipate the impacts of a changing climate on their operations. Support for Rutgers Climate Institute enables us to continue to participate in community engagement with civic leaders, high school students, garden clubs, planners, government officials, industry officials, and citizens from throughout the state and region. Workshops often help to ground our research, ensuring that the work we are doing is relevant to the end users of climate information. They also enable the individuals responsible for setting policies to be well-informed. Finally, support for the Rutgers Climate Institute enables us to bring visiting scholars to Rutgers who can expose our students, faculty and community to new and different viewpoints and help to identify new research directions.


Gifts to Rutgers Climate Institute can be made to our unrestricted fund or to our dedicated Student Support Fund.

Rutgers Climate Institute Student Support Fund

The Rutgers Climate Institute Student Support Fund provides support for Rutgers student travel and related expenses for the purposes of climate change education and research. The family of William H. Greenberg (Rutgers University Class of 1944) has graciously seeded the development of this fund. Information for prospective applicants can be found here.

Why a Student Support Fund?

The RCI Student Support Fund has been established to further students' education and scholarship, enable them to develop, conduct and collaborate with other academics, and improve their ability to translate their research to a range of constituencies (e.g., general public, other students, educators, policymakers, governmental and non-governmental organizations) all key to their training as the next generation of climate scientists and educators. In addition, the Student Support Fund facilitates students' ability to showcase their research, network and establish connections that will contribute to their success once they have completed their education at Rutgers University.

Ariele Baker in Amsterdam for the People and the Sea VII Conference

Meet Ariele Baker, a Rutgers graduate student in Geography who traveled to the Center for Maritime Research People and the Sea VII Conference in Amsterdam in 2013 with modest RCI support. There, Ariele was part of a Rutgers team including graduate students in Planning and Policy, and Sociology where she was able to share the results of her work on the distinctions between the effects of Hurricane Sandy on commercial versus recreational fishing communities. As Ariele notes, "The MARE conference was an excellent opportunity to see not only how people are theorizing about fisheries issues and climate change, but also how some projects are applying theoretical concepts to real world problems." Ariele's advisor, Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor Emerita Bonnie McCay adds, "The meeting in Amsterdam was invaluable in terms of networking for employment in the arenas of marine policy and environmental social science and that Ariele is using the contacts made there to find employment."

Khoi Nguyen about to launch a weather balloon as part of the Southern Aerosol Oxidant Study. In her left hand is a radiosonde that measures atmospheric parameters such as pressure, temperature, altitude, wind, and relative humidity.  

Khoi Nguyen is a Rutgers Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Sciences studying Atmospheric Chemistry. Khoi's paper " Historical trends in aerosol water in the southeastern United States" was accepted at the 2014 International Commission on Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Pollution/International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Science Conference in Natal Brazil. Khoi struggled to find the resources to support her travel expenses which include airfare, hotel, ground transportation, meals, visa and conference fees. Through perseverance, Khoi was able to find support for her trip to Brazil; however, even when travel funds can be had by students, they often are not enough. "It is important to enable graduate students to attend these conferences and meetings to ensure career and individual growth. It helps us to better effectively share our research by presenting our work, seeing others present, and discussing with colleagues at the meetings. For me, attending conferences expands my knowledge and potential in not only my research field, but also in fields spanning other geophysical science disciplines," says Khoi.

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c/o Department of Environmental Sciences
Rutgers University
Environmental and Natural Resources Sciences Building
14 College Farm Road
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8551