2017-2018 Academic Year

News in July 2018

CBS News and The Idaho Statesman report on the link between global warming and the increased likelihood of extreme weather such as severe heat and heavy rainfall, while recounting extreme weather events across the globe this summer. According to climate scientists such as Michael Mann, RCI affiliate Jennifer Francis, Noah Diffenbaugh, Kim Cobb, and Friederike Otto, single weather events often cannot be linked to climate change, but the chance of these events occurring is becoming much greater due to global warming.

The famous painting The Scream sold for a record $119.9 million in 2012, but the inspiration behind its iconic red-and-yellow sky has not always been clear. RCI affiliate Alan Robock as well as scientists from the University of Oxford and University of London believe the artist, Edvard Munch. intended to depict nacreous clouds (clouds in the winter polar stratosphere) in the sky of this world renown painting, Rutgers Today reports. 

Rutgers’ campaign for its dining halls to go completely trayless has been a resounding success in terms of not only saving money but also  reducing food waste and improving sustainability. The university has saved $30,000 per day since it started removing trays, reducing the amount of food that students threw out. In addition to removing trays, food waste is also ground up and sent to a local farm as animal feed; Rutgers also reuses fry oil in a biofuel generator to produce electricity and heat for one of its dining halls . 

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released their publication Science Breakthroughs to Advance Food and Agricultural Research by 2030, focusing on the challenges associated with a changing climate that will test US agriculture’s long-term sustainability, competitiveness, and resilience. US farmers and producers require more tools to manage these pressures, and this report identifies emerging scientific advances for accelerating progress towards resilience goals.

RCI affiliate Alan Robock joins the Academic Minute on Inside Higher Ed podcast to discuss geoengineering as a way to prevent further global warming. Robock urges caution to use such dramatic measures, as the unintended consequences of artificially reflecting sunlight can be just as harmful as those of global warming

Rutgers University researchers have published results of their study that  found a more efficient way to extract hydrogen from water, using gold nanoparticles and titanium dioxide. The research opens the door to better solar energy storage, boosting efforts to combat climate change. Hydrogen can be used to store solar energy and then when the sun is not available for energy capture, it can be combusted for energy.

RCI affiliate Jennifer Francis is featured on the Climate Cast podcast at MPR News. Francis discusses her research on the links between changes in the Arctic and changes in the jet stream in the mid-latitudes, a series of changes that starts with global climate change.

Jennifer Francis provided insight into new research published recently in Nature Climate Change, which found that the Arctic Ocean was quickly becoming more like the climate of the Atlantic Ocean due to extreme warming in the Barents Sea. Francis connects this rapid warming, which has already been observed, to changes in atmospheric circulation that her research has shown is very likely to occur. This result in a more variable jet stream, influencing the frequency of extreme weather.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has published the report, Understanding the Long-Term Evolution of the Coupled Natural-Human Coastal System, which focuses on enabling a better understanding of the factors that influence long-term environmental changes along the Gulf Coast. The report promotes increased resilience and maintenance of the habitability of the Gulf Coast into the future.

Recent above average rainfall in NJ is causing very high pollen concentrations, as tree and grass pollen are surging at the same time, according to RCI affiliate Leonard Bielory. While tree pollen is expected to fade within a week, grass pollen will linger for up to another month.

Four new moons over the next few months will bring an above average risk of coastal flooding to the Jersey shore this summer, as reported by the Press of Atlantic City. New moons on June 12th, July 12th, August 11th, and September 9th are of interest, as the moon will be at its closest to earth, according to RCI co-director Anthony Broccoli. The angle of the sun also plays into just how high the tides get, according to RCI affiliate Steven Decker.

New Jersey’s average temperature has increased by 2.19 degrees Fahrenheit, outpacing much of the rest of the nation over the last 30 years. RCI affiliate David Robinson cautions against reading too much into the statistics of changes across very small areas, but agrees that it is indisputable that the NJ coast is already seeing increased flooding as temperatures rise.

Corals are vital habitats for many marine wildlife, and recent research by RCI affiliate Debashish Bhattacharya on how coral deals with environmental stress gives hope that steps can be taken to improve the  protection of coral populations. Bleaching events are stressful and often deadly to coral, but understanding which corals are resistant can help inspire ways to protect coral in the future.