Robert Kopp is a climate scientist who serves at Rutgers University as a professor in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences and co-director of the University Office of Climate Action.
He directs the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH), a National Science Foundation-funded, 12-university consortium led by Rutgers University. MACH works within the Philadelphia-New York City-New Jersey region to both 1) facilitate flexible, equitable, and robust multidecadal planning to manage climate risk, and 2) advance the scientific understanding of how interactions among coastal climate hazards, changing landforms, and human decisions shape climate risk.
He also directs Rutgers’ transdisciplinary Coastal Climate Risk & Resilience (C2R2) initiative, a training program which brings graduate students in the natural sciences, social sciences, engineering, and urban planning together with coastal stakeholders to tackle the challenges that climate change poses to the world’s coastlines.
He is a director of the Climate Impact Lab, a multi-institutional collaboration of more than three dozen economists, data scientists, climate scientists, and policy experts, working to bring Big Data approaches to the assessment of the economic risks of climate change.
Professor Kopp’s research focuses on understanding uncertainty in past and future climate change, with major emphases on sea-level change, the interactions between physical climate change and the economy, and the use of climate risk information to inform decision making. He has authored over one hundred scientific papers, as well as popular articles in venues including the New York Times, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, and The Conversation.
Professor Kopp is a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2021 Sixth Assessment Report, the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s 2017 Fourth National Climate Assessment and Economic Risks of Climate Change: An American Prospectus. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate and was a committee member for the 2015-2017 National Academies Project on Assessing Approaches to Updating the Social Cost of Carbon. He was also a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2014 Fifth Assessment Report.
He has served on sea-level rise expert groups for the states of New Jersey, Maryland and California and the cities of Boston and New York.
From 2017-2021, Professor Kopp served as director of the Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (EOAS). In addition to the Rutgers Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences and EOAS, he is a member of the Rutgers Climate Institute and the Rutgers Energy Institute. He is affiliated with Rutgers graduate programs in Atmospheric Sciences, Geological Sciences, Oceanography, Statistics, and Planning and Public Policy.
Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty, Dr. Kopp served as an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Policy and International Affairs. At the Energy Department, he provided key technical support to the White House-led process on incorporating the social cost of carbon into regulatory analysis and played a leading role in the development and launch of the Clean Energy Ministerial’s appliance and equipment efficiency effort, the Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment initiative.
Prior to this fellowship, Dr. Kopp was a Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy postdoctoral research fellow at Princeton University. He received his Ph.D. in geobiology from Caltech, where his research focused on fossil magnetotactic bacteria and on the long-term co-evolution of life and climate on planet Earth. He received his undergraduate degree in geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago, where his senior thesis research examined putative signs of Martian life in the meteorite ALH84001.
Professor Kopp is a Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor’s Scholar, a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and a past Leopold Leadership Fellow. He is a recipient of the American Geophysical Union’s James B. Macelwane and William Gilbert Medals and the International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA)’s Sir Nicholas Shackleton Medal.