2018-2019 Academic Year

News and Highlights in August 2019

RCI affiliate Mike Kennish recently published a new marine science textbook with a new section devoted to the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems. 

U.S. Rep Frank Pallone (D-NJ) is proposing a bill to provide $50 million in matching federal funds for development of ‘living shorelines’, prioritizing towns impacted by Superstorm Sandy, reports NJTV News. Since 1900, sea levels have risen faster in New Jersey compared to the rest of the world. Living shorelines, comprised of oyster beds, marshlands, and beach grasses are considered by many environmentalists to be a critical way to defend the New Jersey coastline from future storms.

Saving NJ from the Rising Tide4 essays from RCI affiliates

The Rutgers Climate Institute is partnering with Duke Farms to document the impact of using sustainable farming techniques on carbon emissions. The institute is monitoring projects on Duke Farms’ 2,742 acres of land to understand the mechanisms of carbon storage to devise further strategies for farms to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

New Jersey is one of the fastest-warming states, reports the Washington Post and NJ.com, disrupting wintertime recreational activities and relegating the ice industry to the history books.  The average New Jersey temperature from December through February now exceeds 0 degrees Celsius, which according to RCI affiliate David Robinson is ‘the most critical threshold among all temperatures.’ As a result, lakes don’t freeze as often, snow melts quickly, and pests like ticks don’t die off. According to RCI co-director Anthony Broccoli, since 2000 New Jersey has had 39 months in the top five warmest and 0 months in the top five coldest.

Rutgers researcher Eric Lam is exploring the possibility that duckweed could be a key solution to alleviating the threat that climate change poses for agriculture, which a recent IPCC special report co-authored by RCI Affiliate Pamela McElwee detailed the threat. According to Lam, duckweed is the world’s fastest growing plant with more protein than soybeans and can grow on wastewater. The plant is also ideal for vertical farming, which involves water-filled trays stacked on top of each other, and grows 50 times faster than corn.

new IPCC special report focusing on climate change and land use has been released, warning of a looming food crisis as rising temperatures reduce crop yields and the nutritional value of crops, according to an IPCC press release and an article in National Geographic. RCI affiliate and report lead author Pamela McElwee says informed choices can protect ecosystems and reduce carbon emissions in the absence of new technologies. These choices include ending deforestation, protecting peatlands, and cutting food waste.  


Screenshot from 2019-08-12 11-09-15.pngSource: IPCC report Figure 5.1 Interlinkages between the climate system, food system, ecosystem, and socio-economic system.

The film ‘Countdown to Cleaner Air: Street Scientists and the Fight for First Street’ was selected for screening at the 2019 Global Public Health Film Festival in Philadelphia this November. The film features RCI affiliate Robert Laumbach, and details an effort to improve public health by reducing pollution from truck traffic in Newark, New Jersey.

Sea level rise is exacerbating high-tide flooding, especially along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts due to melting ice sheets and warmer ocean temperatures. Flooding will continue because the average tide is higher along many coastal areas, according to RCI affiliate Robert Kopp. Infrastructure projects to accommodate flooding are short term solutions, according to Kopp, as there are limits to adapting to sea-level rise. The best solution is ultimately to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.