2016-2017 Academic Year

News in May 2017

President Donald Trump announced June 1st that the United States would withdraw from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord; despite this intention, several U.S. states, cities, businesses and universities have formed subnational coalitions committing to the goals of the Paris Climate Accord (additional information here) .

RCI affiliate Robert Kopp discusses the possible ramifications of the United State’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord in a piece published online at The Conversation.


Valuing Climate Damages: Updating Estimation of the Social Cost of Carbon has just been published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.The social cost of carbon is an attempt to monetize the positive and negative net impacts of increased carbon dioxide emissions and has been used in federal regulatory impact analyses since 2008.


As initiatives to mitigate climate change come under threat with the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, the option of geoengineering continues to be discussed. RCI affiliate Alan Robock describes the limitations of solar geoengineering by injecting sulfate particles in the stratosphere in Nexus Media News. He suggests to counter the current radiative forcing of carbon dioxide, each year we would need to inject the amount of sulfate aerosols equivalent to Mt. Pinatubo’s 1991 eruption.


Global sea level rise is having a profound local impact on New Jersey’s back bays according to the New York Times. RCI affiliate Ben Horton as well as other Rutgers researchers project that by 2050, seas off New Jersey will rise by 1.4 feet, exacerbating the local issue of back bay flooding in places like Ocean City, NJ.


Congratulations to RCI affiliate Michael J. Kennish, the recipient of the 2017 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, for his research of anthropogenic effects on estuarine, coastal, and marine environments.


Viruses transmitted by mosquitoes are a major threat to public health across the world. RCI affiliate Dina Fonseca’s research studies the movement of mosquitoes and has been working towards better strategies to identify and monitor insecticide resistance in mosquitoes to improve epidemiology.

RCI affiliate Jennifer Francis discusses how the United States is responsible for a large amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is relevant to the Paris Climate Deal, according to an article in the Boston Herald.


Credit agencies are failing to incorporate factors such as future coastal flooding from climate change into credit risks given to investors. As flooding from coastal storms increases, property will likely be threatened and residents could be forced out, reducing economic activity and tax revenue. Despite this credit rating agencies such as Moody’s and S&P Global, among many others are not taking these factors into account when providing credit ratings.

RCI affiliate Alan Robock offers his expertise on the risks of geoengineering in Technology Review. As global surface temperatures continue to rise, geoengineering is seen as a technology worthy of study by some scientists and risky by others. Robock has published a list of 27 risks and concerns raised by geoengineering, including its potential to deplete the ozone layer and to decrease rainfall in Africa and Asia.


RCI affiliate Serpil Guran, director of the Rutgers EcoComplex, discusses her work at the Burlington County facility where small business and environmental stewardship go hand in hand. Through the EcoComplex, small businesses are enabled to ‘do good and do well.’


RCI affiliate Benjamin Horton, a leader in researching sea level rise, discusses the importance of barrier islands for the New Jersey coast in Scientific American. These islands are the first line of defense during extreme weather events that generate powerful waves. Typically, those who are the most vulnerable to these events are also the poorest, creating a critical situation on the Jersey Shore. 


Ken Able, Director of the Rutgers University Marine Field Station discusses the intrusion of saltwater into freshwater ecosystems in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey in a weather.com article. The marsh can not handle the continued encroachment of saltwater as sea level rise accelerates.


The Renewable Natural Resources Foundation has three annual awards: The Sustainable Achievement Award, The Outstanding Achievement Award, and the Excellence in Journalism Award to recognize outstanding achievements in the renewable natural resources fields. Two of the awards, established in 1992, were the first to honor interdisciplinary achievements with an emphasis on the application of sound scientific practices in managing and conserving renewable natural resources. Nomination deadline June 2, 2017. More information here.


Congratulations to RCI affiliates Robert Kopp (Earth and Planetary Sciences) and Rachael Shwom (Human Ecology).  Professor Kopp has been appointed the Director of Rutgers Institute of Earth, Oceans and Atmospheric Sciences and Professor Shwom has been appointed as Associate Director of the Rutgers Energy Institute.

Congratulations to RCI affiliates Qingyu Meng and Stephan Schwander on receiving 2017 Global Health Seed Grants, for their research entitled ‘The effect of air pollution on M.tb transmission in Kampala, Uganda.  The Rutgers Global Health Institute supports these seed grants to assist faculty in pursuing new ideas and expanding projects.


Congratulations to RCI affiliate Dave Bushek, who as Director of the Rutgers Haskins Shellfish Laboratory (HSRL) received the Dr. Ruth Patrick Excellence in Education Award. The HSRL received the award for its ongoing research and contributions to sharing knowledge with fishermen, aquaculturists, state agencies.

RCI affiliate and Rutgers professor Jason Grabosky was hosted by the Two Rivers Shade Tree Alliance   which included the communities of Fair Haven, Rumson, Little Silver and Shrewsbury. Each town will sponsor a high school student to be CORE trained, to educate participants on key community forestry program themes.

 RCI affiliate Alan Robock was awarded a grant worth $2,982,206 for modeling studies on the on the climatological and subsequent ecological and social effects of large nuclear conflicts. Funding for this grant comes from the Open Philanthropy Project.

Congratulations to RCI affiliate Robert Kopp on his appointment as the new director of Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (EOAS).

US Department of Agriculture acknowledges the New Jersey Weather Network(NJWxNet), which operates a 66-station mesonet, run by the NJ State Climatologist and RCI affiliate Dave Robinson. The NJWxNet helps alert fire management officials when fire conditions are favorable and provides high quality weather data to farmers.

RCI affiliate Alan Robock weighs in on the debate over the ethics of geoengineering to combat the rise in global temperatures from increasing CO2 in a NY Times Magazine article. Robock has previously published a list of 20 concerns of using geoengineering to deal with global warming.

NJ’s longest drought in 15 years is over, according to RCI affiliate and NJ state climatologist Dave Robinson in a northjersey.com article. A recent pattern shift has led to above average rainfall over the past few months, leading to the removal of drought warning advisories across the state.

In a recent NJ 101.5 article, RCI affiliate Dave Robinson discusses the unique dangers of flash flooding in New Jersey, because of increased intensity of storms and more area covered with asphalt and surfaces impervious to water.

RCI affiliate Jeanne Herb attended a roundtable discussion titled “How Climate Change Impacts Our Health” with Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ). The NJ Climate Adaptation Alliance’s conclusions from its Climate Change and Public Health Workgroup were offered to help advise the congressman in addressing potential health impacts of climate change.

RCI co-director Anthony Broccoli explains some of the indicators that show the current state of the climate and the extent of global warming on Yale Climate Connections.

Congratulations to RCI affiliate Jason Grabosky, winner of the 2017 SEBS Teaching Excellence Award!

RCI associate director Marjorie Kaplan discusses in Growing Magazine how Rutgers scientists are engaged in plant breeding programs to safeguard New Jersey crops against climate change; while Nick Vorsa, director of Rutgers Marucci Blueberry Cranberry Research and Extension Center discusses climate related vulnerability of blueberry and cranberry from fruit rot as a focus of his breeding research.  

RCI affiliate Alan Robock’s work on the environmental impacts of nuclear war are brought to attention in a NY Times article which delves into the possibility of using geoengineering techniques to combat global warming.

RCI affiliate Leonard Bielory discusses the recent surge of tree pollen, aggravating those with even mild allergies, in a NJ 101.5 article. Trees that typically release their pollen at different times are instead overlapping due to the late March snow storm. Bielory noted over the past 25 years “there’s actually been a doubling of individuals who are allergic, meaning the number used to be 20 percent, now we’re at 30 to 40 percent of the United States population have allergies. And they used to be allergic to two or three items, now they’re allergic to six or eight items.

Changes in the large scale atmospheric pattern have been beneficial for New Jersey's ongoing drought, according to David Robinson in a northjersey.com article. The past 30 days have been above normal, allowing for drought statuses across the state to be downgraded.

Congratulations to RCI co-director Anthony Broccoli on receiving a Faculty Scholar-Teacher Award for the academic year 2016-2017. This university wide award honors faculty members who have made outstanding contributions in research and teaching, recognizing those who bring together scholarly and classroom activities.

RCI affiliate and distinguished Rutgers professor Alan Robock was interviewed on the BBC World Service show The Inquiry, "Do we need a Plan B for climate change?" Robock discussed some of his research on geoengineering and what impacts those methods may have on the planet.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published proceedings of a January 2016 workshop Antarctic Sea Ice Variability in the Southern Ocean-Climate System.  which aims to bolster the understanding of Antarctic Sea Ice dynamics and variability.

RCI affiliate Jennifer Francis weighs in on the mechanism of how climate change may be influencing the frequency of severe weather in the Christian Science Monitor.

The EPA released an updated State and Local guide to U.S. EPA Climate and Energy Program Resources. Click here to view the document.