2017-2018 Academic Year

News in December 2017

Three Rutgers graduate students in the Plant Biology program took home awards for oral and poster presentations at the joint international meeting of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America held on October 22-25 in Tampa, Florida. Cathryn Chapman took third place for her oral presentation Effects of Elevated Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on Drought Tolerance and Post-Drought Recovery of Kentucky Bluegrass.” Her poster presentation, Effects of Hormones on Drought Tolerance and Post-Drought Recovery in Creeping Bentgrass, took third place in the Graduate Student Poster Competition in the Turf Science and Management Section.

Rutgers is implementing phase one of a study to facilitate the transition from traditional turfgrass to ‘low-input turfgrass’ that would save on water, fertilizer, fossil fuels and pesticides Research led by the University of Minnesota has allowed for the evaluation of the social, economic, and environmental barriers and benefits of transitioning to different types of turfgrass. The site that was chosen is in between the Food Science building and the Cook Douglass Lecture Hall (CDL).



New research suggests that Greenland ice sheets may be more porous and are retaining more meltwater than previously thought, according to the NY Times. RCI affiliate Asa Rennermalm is part of the team along with her graduate students Rohi Muthyala and Sasha Leidman. Using an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler, they are able to quantify the meltwater flux off of Greenland for the first time.


RCI affiliate Jennifer Francis speaks on broader wind pattern changes with climate change that may enhance the California wildfire season. While hundreds of acres of California are burning, recent research  published by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, suggests there may be a link between rising temperatures, the loss of Arctic sea ice and the persistence of atmospheric high pressure in the Pacific Ocean, leading to more persistent Santa Ana winds.

Two Rutgers University seniors, Taylor Dodge and Rachael Young, are roommates traveling to different areas of Antarctica this month to conduct field research on climate change impacts.  They were inspired by professors who taught the oceanography course during their first year of school including RCI affiliates Oscar Schofield and Josh Kohut. Read more here.


The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reminds us of the following resources for disaster preparation and recovery: Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative;  Healthy, Resilient, and Sustainable Communities After Disasters: Strategies, Opportunities, and Planning for Recovery; Emergency Alert and Warning Systems: Current Knowledge and Future Research Directions; Enhancing the Resilience of the Nation's Electricity System.

RCI affiliate Alan Robock discusses the global climate implications of the ongoing eruption of Mt. Agung in Bali, Indonesia in Mashable, Reuters, and Scientific American. The last eruption of Mt. Agung occurred in 1963, which was larger than the ongoing eruption and led to a slight reduction in global temperatures due to the reflection of sunlight from sulfur aerosols.

Read about Rutgers Coastal Climate Risk and Resilience Program (C2R2), a new program aimed at working to help coastal communities and ecosystems become more resilient to the effects of a changing climate. RCI affiliate Robert Kopp is the co-director of C2R2, which secured funding as part of the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship program.

detailing the potential economic effects of climate change as well as economic damages that have already occurred, as reported by NBC news. According to the report, the federal government has spent an estimated $350 billion over the past decade in response to extreme weather and fire events, which have been found to be exacerbated by climate change. The report recommends the President of the United States use this information to identify risks and craft an appropriate federal response.

Congratulations to RCI affiliate Ethan Schoolman on winning  the Campus Sustainability Research Award for outstanding achievements and progress toward sustainability from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). Schoolman authored a study which  found that millennial students currently enrolled at a major public university, while broadly supportive of public transportation, recycling, and conserving energy and water, are much less interested in incorporating environmental concerns into decisions about food and in actively reducing their consumption of material things and that despite sizeable investments in sustainability intiatives and environmental programs at the one public institution studied (University of Michigan), there is little evidence that undergraduate students are becoming more committed to sustainability as a result of their time on campus. In fact, student willingness to recycle and conserve natural resources may be highly dependent on the institutional conveniences of campus life, and it was not clear that students would continue such practices once these conveniences had disappeared. Schoolman notes that large schools like U of Michigan and Rutgers would benefit from opportunities to learn about and encounter sustainable food and alternative food systems inside and outside the classroom and that universities must find ways to encourage adopting environmentally responsible behaviors outside the “campus bubble” and into the real world and life after school.


RCI affiliates Robert Kopp and Lisa Auermuller are featured in an NJ101.5 article highlighting the risk of another storm like Hurricane Sandy impacting coastal communities struggling to adapt. According to Governor Chris Christie, progress has been extraordinary over the past five years as beaches from Cape May to Sandy Hook have been fortified with dunes and walls. Robert Kopp agrees, but is concerned with the lack of a coastal master plan to address remaining weaknesses. Lisa Auermuller confirms that progress has occurred on an individual level, but not at the community level, especially in terms of preparing for longer term aspects of climate change. Raising homes protects an individual’s property but offers nothing to protect roadways, water pumping stations, and stormwater systems. Additionally, the construction of dunes and walls have led to an increase in back bay flooding for many areas.

The ‘RU Sustainable to the CORE?’ conference was held on October 11th at the Cook Student Center. Co-sponsored by the Rutgers Climate Institute, along with many other campus groups and organized by the Sustainability Committee at Rutgers led by RCI affiliate Jill Lipoti, participants gathered to discuss how 17 global goals could be used to promote sustainability at Rutgers. Four ‘CORE’ areas were the focus of the conference, including curriculum, operations, research, and engagement. The discussion for goal 13, or ‘climate action’ was led by RCI affiliate Ming Xu, RCI co-director Robin Leichenko, and RCI associate director Marjorie Kaplan.