2017-2018 Academic Year

News in August 2018

 Warming ocean waters may cause bottom-dwelling snail larvae to hatch earlier while waves are larger and more turbulent, impacting their ability to survive according to a study by Rutgers researchers. Rutgers researcher Heidi Fuchs, lead researcher on the study, states that more than 99% of the snail larvae they studied in transit died, so any changes in their ability to find survivable habitats can affect their population.

The EPA under President Trump has put forward a proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan, reports the NY Times and Washington Post. The proposal is expected to slow efforts to reduce carbon emissions as well as increase air pollution. Additionally, changes in how emissions are measured for mandated upgrades to coal power plants will allow for coal-fired power plants to run for longer and pollute more. According to Rutgers law professor Craig Olsen, this will increase the period of time that people are exposed to air pollution, and the EPA projects an additional 470 to 1400 premature deaths each year compared to the Clean Power Plan due to particulate matter in the air.

As ocean temperatures rise, fish are beginning to move north in search of colder water. The migration of marine life can set up problems as fish cross political boundaries, according to a new study published in Science and reported by Seafood Source. According to lead author and RCI affiliate Malin Pinsky, this can lead to fractures in international relations over fishing disputes because the economic consequences of these disputes can impact other sectors.

Torrential rainfall across New Jersey has set-up frightening situations of flash flooding, especially in Little Falls, NJ this past week, where dozens of cars were swept away from an auto dealership and homes were inundated, reports NJTV. According to RCI affiliate David Robinson, a persistent weather pattern has allowed for a moisture-rich atmosphere, making it easier for storms that move very slowly to create intense flash flooding.

Syringes recently washed up on New Jersey beaches after heavy rainfall caused sewerage treatment plant overflow, reports NJ.com. Although the number of syringes seen today is a fraction of those found in 1988, still more than 400 syringes were found on New Jersey beaches in 2017. According to RCI affiliate Dan Van Abs, the number of syringes washed onshore has decreased significantly since 1988 due to significant action, such as installing nets at the outflows to catch trash. More action can be taken, however, such as ending combined water-sewer systems.

A warming climate will burden future societies with enormous costs in the form of death due to extreme heat, reports the Wall Street Journal based on a new study from the Climate Impact Lab. RCI affiliate Robert Kopp is an author of this study, which shows that cities in warm climates experience large projected increases in heat deaths, while cities in temperate climates may see an improvement in their mortality rates due to a decrease in extreme cold conditions. Wealth tends to be a mitigating factor, improving a city’s ability to adapt, but this takes away from the other services provided to society.


The extreme weather experienced globally during July is consistent with the impacts of anthropogenic climate change, reports USA Today. RCI affiliate Jennifer Francis weighs in, emphasizing the cost of climate change on lives on property not just in the distant future, but even today.

Climate change will have mixed effects on wildlife, reports the Christian Science Monitor. According to RCI Professor Julie Lockwood,  species that have very specialized adaptations will be most at risk of disappearing as the climate changes. For many species, including invasive species, climate change creates an opportunity to expand and thrive. With respect to ocean species, RCI affiliate Malin Pinsky is quoted, “We’re seeing hundreds, if not hundreds of thousands, of species shifting toward higher latitudes…It’s happening about 10 times faster in the ocean as on land, and it’s largely unseen.”

Geoengineering through solar radiation management as a way to combat climate warming may have unintended consequences, such as reducing agricultural yield, reports Wired and Gizmodo. Using volcanic eruptions as an analogue, researchers studied the effect that volcanic eruptions in the past had on food production to determine the effects that geoengineering could have. According to RCI affiliate Alan Robock, there is still research to be done before the case for geoengineering can be fully made.

The exotic Longhorned tick was found on a 14-year-old girl from New Jersey, the first known human interaction with the tick, NorthJersey.com reports. The girl was not bitten by the tick and the tick was not found to be carrying lyme disease. According to RCI affiliate Dina Fonseca, this is still a significant finding because the tick has been in the United States for five years and there had been no known human encounters.

RCI affiliate Jill Lipoti discusses how harmful food waste is at NorthJersey.com. Food waste encompasses everything from food that doesn’t get harvested to food that is purchased but never eaten. According to Lipoti, as a society we don’t fully appreciate all of the resources that go into food that isn’t consumed, nor is enough attention paid to the amount of methane that is produced from landfill waste.

The EPA’s global lake monitoring efforts are assisting the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) to assess water quality in Ireland’s lakes, according to the Irish Times and The Drive. RCI affiliate Olaf Jensen is involved in the project, who has experience using drones to monitor rivers and lakes in North America and Mongolia.

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, News 12 New JerseyScience Daily, and USA Today reports.