2017-2018 Academic Year

News in March 2018

Greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2017 for the first time in three years, according to the International Energy Agency and as reported in the NY Times. Most of the emissions increase came from Asia, where fast growing countries rely heavily on fossil fuels to lift themselves out of poverty. Increases in emissions in developing countries overshadowed successful emission cuts, in countries such as as the United States,   Britain, Mexico and Japan, while the European Union had an overall increase in emissions.

RCI affiliate Jennifer Francis wrote an article in the Washington Post on the link between climate change and strong winter storms, suggesting that climate change may be influencing an increase in the number of snowstorms. A number of studies point towards a link between the two, connected through rapid warming in the Arctic. A warm Arctic tends to displace colder air towards the south, which in recent years has led to colder temperatures over the eastern United States and warmer temperatures to set up for long periods of time in the West Coast.

NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 allows for scientists to visually represent in 3-D how carbon dioxide moves throughout the atmosphere combining satellite data with a high resolution weather model.  the spatial distribution of CO2 more accurately and develop a better understandings of carbon fluxes in the earth system. The OCO-2 satellite is designed to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide at regional scales. 

UNEP DTU  Partnership has released Adaptation metrics: Perspectives on measuring, aggregating and comparing adaptations results which addresses the question of how to measure success in making our societies less vulnerable and more resilient to climate change. The publication can be downloaded online here.

Julie Lockwood, a Rutgers professor in the Department of Ecology & Natural Resources participated as a Lead Author on the Americas Assessment chapter of a UN biodiversity assessment report titled “Direct and indirect drivers of change in biodiversity and nature’s benefit to people in the context of different perspectives on quality of life.” According to the report, under a ‘business as usual’ scenario, climate change will be the fastest growing driver negatively impacting biodiversity by 2050 in the Americas, becoming comparable to the pressures imposed by land use change. On average today, the populations of species in an area are about 31% smaller than was the case at the time of European settlement. With the growing effects of climate change added to the other drivers, this loss is projected to reach 40% by 2050

Warmth in the Arctic is linked to an increase in extreme winter weather in the United States, according to a new study in Nature Communications co-authored by RCI affiliate Jennifer Francis.  The study suggests that an abnormally warm Arctic makes severe winter weather in the eastern United States 2 to 4 times more likely.  Additionally, the study suggests a warmer Arctic is also linked to colder temperatures in northern Europe and Asia.

A Review of the Draft Fourth National Climate Assessment is available for download by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The National Climate Assessment is coordinated by the US Global Change Research Program, and is a mandated report, required to be developed every four years.

A Review of the Draft Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report (SOCCR2) is available for download by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. SOCCR2 aims to discuss accounting for all major carbon sources and sinks in North America, with implications for land use and natural resource management as well as climate change mitigation strategies.

On March 6th, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Climate Communications Initiative (CCI) met to discuss the science of climate communications and the current climate communications landscape. The meeting included panel discussions (one of which was moderated by RCI affiliate William Hallman) which can be viewed on the CCI meeting page.

Congratulations to Rutgers graduate student Patrick Burgess, who has been chosen to receive the Musser International Turfgrass Foundation Award of Excellence for 2018.  Burgess, who studied under  RCI affiliate Bingru Huang, received his doctorate from Rutgers School of Graduate Studies in the Plant Biology program where his research focused on ‘Physiological and biochemical factors associated with drought tolerance of creeping bentgrass.’

RCI affiliate Jennifer Francis discusses her research in the context of unusually warm temperatures currently occuring in the Arctic Circle in an article on Seeker.com. Warm air temperatures in the Arctic make ice vulnerable to being swept out of the Arctic and prevents long term ice growth. According to Francis, warmth in the Arctic influences weather in the US by creating a more variable jet stream, thus leading to more persistent weather conditions.

The world is not prepared for a major volcanic eruption, according to a paper published in Geosphere which explores the consequences of a magnitude VEI-7 (Volcanic Explosivity Index) or greater eruption. RCI affiliate Alan Robock is a co-author on the study, which suggests researchers should begin preparing for a VEI-7 eruption as well as offers a list of volcanoes possible of producing a VEI-7 blast. Volcanic eruptions can have consequences on climate, society, and even GPS measurements as sulfate aerosols are emitted in the atmosphere and spread throughout the world.

Horseshoe crab numbers in the Delaware Bay are down, which is having an effect on the red knot, according to RCI affiliate Rick Lathrop as reported in Rutgers Today, The Press of Atlantic City and WHYY.org.  The red knot is a migratory bird which travels 10,000 miles from Chile to the Arctic to breed. On its journey to the Arctic each spring, it stops  in Delaware Bay to eat horseshoe crab eggs, gaining weight that is crucial to successfully complete their journey. This study highlights the sensitivity of interconnections between global ecosystems.

February 2018 ranked fourth warmest and third wettest in New Jersey, as reported by RCI affiliate and New Jersey State Climatologist David Robinson in the NJHerald  and  NJ.com. New Brunswick recorded its wettest February, while snowfall was 1-3 inches below average throughout the state.

The Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences has these books available online: Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises, Climate Change: Evidence and Causes, Climate Intervention: Reflecting Sunlight to Cool Earth, Climate Intervention: Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reliable Sequestration, America's Climate Choices, Arctic Matters: The Global Connection to Changes in the Arctic, Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change, Enhancing Participation in the U.S. Global Change Research Program.