News in February 2017
According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, January 2017 was the 3rd warmest January on record globally. While Europe experienced record cold, Arctic and Antarctic sea ice both fell to their lowest extents on record for the month of January. All these records come despite a weak La Nina in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which typically favors cooler global average temperatures, according to WeatherUnderground. In contrast, the warmest and second warmest January on record occurred in 2007 and 2016, both years with an El Nino.
Richard Riman of Rutgers University co-invented a type of concrete that requires far lower temperatures to create than traditional concrete, according to Rutgers Today. The energy saved in concrete production can reduce the carbon footprint of concrete and cement by up to 70% if integrated industry-wide.
RCI affiliates Ben Horton and Robert Kopp and Rutgers student Eric Ashe were co-authors on a paper published in Nature Communications detailing the extreme variability in sea level in east and southeast Asia, according to Rutgers Today. In just a 2000 year period in the Holocene (between 6,850 and 6,500 years ago) , sea level rose 2 feet as a result of natural variability. The implication of this is that this oscillation added to anthropogenic global warming could have devastating consequences in the future.
RCI affiliate Daniel Van Abs, a Rutgers professor who helped to write the New Jersey Water Supply Plan 21 years ago, is interviewed on NJTV News about the New Jersey Water Supply Master Plan. The State of New Jersey has been editing an updated water supply plan for four and a half years, but still has no updated plan. The water supply plan enables the state to adopt a long term strategy for conserving and managing water across the state, and without an updated plan, the state will be vulnerable to issues that arise with water scarcity.
The snow making industry allows ski slopes to stay open despite periods of snow drought and warmer weather, a practice that is being challenged by climate change. According to RCI affiliate David Robinson, snow is arriving later and melting earlier in some places like the Alps. On average, the snow season has declined five days per decade since the 1970s in the northern hemisphere.
The Hybrid Hazelnut Consortium, of which Rutgers is a member, is developing hazelnuts more apt at surviving cold and drought conditions. The goal of the consortium is to expand the commercial production area of hazelnuts, which will be achieved by selecting hazelnuts that can better handle adverse conditions. Tom Molnar of the Rutgers NJ Agricultural Experiment Station plays a key role in these selections.
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.