Home Resources RCI News Archive 2016-2017 Academic Year December


News in February 2017

A crack in the Larson C ice shelf of the eastern coast of the Antarctic peninsula is growing at a rapid rate, according to the New York Times. Project Midas, the research team that has been monitoring the crack since 2014, claims the iceberg will likely break off as the crack approaches softer ice within the next few months. Stress from higher temperatures in the region are likely to blame. Although the collapse of Larson C will not significantly alter global sea levels, the ice shelf acted as structural support for the glaciers behind it. With Larson C gone, the stability of the surrounding shelf is in jeopardy.

In a deal with NBC4 and Telemundo, Rutgers University was the recipient of a new cutting edge doppler radar, according to the Daily Targum. The radar has already been installed on Cook Campus and will soon provide regional radar for a 50,000 square mile area, roughly the size of Pennsylvania. According to RCI affiliate Steven Decker, director of the undergraduate meteorology department, students will be able to learn about the workings of the radar physically and will have access to the data for their own weather forecasts.

Congratulations to RCI affiliate Bob Kopp who was recently promoted to Professor I in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences. His research focuses on past and future climate change uncertainty, focusing mostly on past sea level change and future sea level rise.

January 2017 was New Jersey’s 12th mildest January since 1895, according to RCI affiliate Dave Robinson in an NJ.com piece. With an average temperature of 36.6F, the state was 5.9F above normal. Warm temperatures led to below average snowfall but above average total precipitation.

RCI affiliates Rick Lathrop, Dina Fonseca, Michael Kennish, and Lisa Auermuller received a $743,000 National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) collaborative grant to examine sea level rise's impact on salt marshes, habitats, and managing mosquito populations. This research will provide an improved understanding of the intersection of coastal community resilience and wetlands and help to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Rutgers assistant research professor Jeffra Schaefer co-authored a pioneering study examining anticipated climate change induced increases in precipitation and its effects on marine ecosystems. As increased precipitation causes more runoff, organic matter increases in the water, allowing for the accumulation of mercury in marine life. In a Rutgers Today piece, Schaefer noted that the increase in organic matter can alter the foodweb, affecting how mercury accumulates in fish and shellfish; which can have  devastating impacts their nervous systems, lungs, kidneys, and eyes.

Despite a very rainy January, a drought warning remains in effect t throughout much of the State. According to RCI affiliate and state climatologist Dave Robinson (interviewed by NJ 101.5) that to break the drought, the rainy pattern must continue for an extended amount of time.

RCI affiliate Serpil Guran has been awarded $439,190 by the U.S. Department of Commerce for the project Rutgers Ecolgnite, an effort to assist small companies in pioneering new, innovative clean energy projects. Read more about this project here and  here. Learn more about Dr. Guran here.

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

News in January 2017

RCI affiliate, Bob Kopp is co-author of the new NOAA report, Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States,” which provides both global and regional U.S. sea-level rise scenarios and tools for coastal preparedness planning and risk management as well as a review of recent scientific literature on “worst-case” global average sea-level projections and on the potential for rapid ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica. Professor Kopp notes in Rutgers Today that planning for sea-level rise is essential for risk management as  many areas have already started to flood more often and are potentially more vulnerable to permanent flooding in this century. In 2016, Professor Kopp led a Science and Technical Advisory Panel Report for sea-level rise specific to New Jersey.

The 2016 globally averaged surface temperature ended as the highest since record keeping began in 1880; the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces in 2016 was 58.69 degrees F or 1.69 degrees F above the 20th century average, surpassing the 2015 record by 0.07 degrees F. This was the third consecutive year that the annual global temperature record has been broken according to NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information.  The New York Times describes how such temperatures have affected different areas of the world.

Rutgers Professor Ken Able and RCI affiliate Benjamin Horton and his student, Jennifer Walker are featured in this NewsWorks piece on ghost forests in New Jersey coastal marshes and their work to better understand how sea level rise is influencing coastal forest decline to better plan for the future.


NOAA has recently released state climate summaries focusing on characteristics of the physical climate and coastal issues in accordance with NOAA's mission. Read New Jersey’s report here.

National Academies Press has a recently published Valuing Climate Damages: Updating Estimation of the Social Cost of Carbon Dioxide, for which RCI affiliate Bob Kopp is a recognized committee member. Read more about the Social Cost of Carbon in this interview with Professor Kopp in this Rutgers Today article.


RCI affiliate, Malin Pinsky is cited by the New York Times on the impact that climate change has had on the demographics of certain fish species, resulting in a fishing regulations that have failed to keep up to date with fish species locations.  


Congratulations to RCI affiliates Bob Kopp and Ben Horton who were co- authors of Temperature-driven global sea-level variability in the Common Era, the third most featured climate paper in the media in 2016. This paper assesses the relationship between temperature and global sea level variability over the Common Era through a statistical metaanalysis of proxy relative sea-level reconstructions and tide-gauge data. Among the findings was that the 20th century rise was extremely likely faster than during any of the 27 previous centuries.

Read here about RCI affiliate emerita, Professor Emeritus Bonnie McCay’s lifelong research on fisheries which has helped to better manage “The Commons”, a general term describing any system where the resources are used and perhaps owned jointly, in common.


Congratulations to RCI affiliate Daniel Van Abs who accepted a 2016 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award as a member of the steering committee member of Jersey Water Works, a coalition focused on solutions to the complex and costly problems associated with aging and inefficient water infrastructure statewide.  Read more here.

Read new Resources for the Future reports on Understanding the National Flood Insurance Program in New Jersey and Examining Flood Map Changes of New Jersey commissioned by the New Jersey Realtors Governmental Research Foundation.

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

News in December 2016

The Water Resources and Climate Change Workgroup (established in 2009 by the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force) recently released Updated Federal Interagency Report on Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate: Looking Forward: Priorities for Managing Freshwater Resources in a Changing Climate.

Eastern Region Climate Partners, including Southeast and Gulf of Maine, in partnership with the Southeast and Northeast Regional Climate Centers and NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information share the December edition of the NOAA Regional Climate Services Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlook reports.

This Washington Post article notes while citing the National Snow & Ice Data Center that Arctic sea ice hit record low for November reflecting unusually high air temperatures, winds from the south and a warm ocean.

November is when sea ice in the Arctic usually begins to refreeze; RCI affiliate, Jennifer Francis is quoted by the New York Times explaining that she expects there to be an unusual winter as a result of this situation. In the Rutgers Targum, Professor Francis explains the phenomenon whereby losing sea ice allows more energy from the sun to be absorbed by the ocean and that when fall arrives, the ice is trying to refreeze but because the ocean is so warm it takes longer; heat from the water enters back into the atmosphere, further heating the air, reinforcing the process.

RCI affiliate, Bob Kopp, provides insights on climate policy in the incoming administration of President-elect Trump in the Rutgers Targum.

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

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