2017-2018 Academic Year

News in September 2017

  New Report on Climate Mitigation for New Jersey Available

An Examination of Policy Options for Achieving Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction in New Jersey has been released as a collaboration among research staff from The Georgetown Climate Center, Rutgers Climate Institute, Rutgers Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, and World Resources Institute. Support for the report was provided by The Fund for New Jersey and the Energy Foundation. This report explores policy options for the State of New Jersey in advancing statutory limits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Read more and access the report here.

The  report is featured in NJ Spotlight, and in an op-ed by former NJ Governors James Florio and Thomas Kean  NJ's Next Gov Can Make a real Difference on Climate Change . More coverage of the report includes its being cited by other state leaders who joined with the former Governors in recommendations for the next governor of NJ to address climate change.

RCI affiliate Ying Fan Reinfelder published a new study describing how tree roots search hundreds of feet deep, forcing roots through cracks in rocks to search for water, as explained in Rutgers Today. The depth of the plant roots is a function of soil conditions, which are important when considering plants’ adaptation to climate change. Plants are very adaptable, but deeper-rooted plants  will have an advantage as their environments change around them.

 The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released Enhancing the Resilience of the Nation’s Electricity System which describes how investments must be prioritized based on potential benefits as opposed to perfection of the system. The report identifies strategies to increase the resilience of power systems in the face of large-area long-duration outages.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released Wind Energy Finance in the United States: Current Practice and Opportunities. Investment in wind energy since 2006 has been greater than $140billion, yet costs for investors are driven up by a lack of familiarity with its asset class. This report provides a demonstration of how financing rates impact a project’s total energy cost, with the goal to provide a resource for financing the wind development process.

 RCI Co-Director Tony Broccoli featured at September 27, 2017 statewide conference Climate Change Policy in New Jersey: Advancing Opportunities to make New Jersey Safer, Greener, Healthier and More Prosperous , sponsored by the New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance. Professor Broccoli is featured in this NJTVNews piece about the conference  describing climate change impacts to New Jersey, along with RCI Associate Director Marjorie Kaplan and Rutgers Professor, Dr. George DiFerdinando .  The conference, including  Dr. Broccoli and Dr. DiFerdinando, are also featured in this NJ Spotlight piece. 

New Jersey is not on target to reach its greenhouse gas goal by 2050, according to a new report by researchers from Rutgers Climate Institute, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Georgetown Climate Center and World Resources Institute. The report found the state lacks a detailed and comprehensive strategy to achieve its goals. Greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut by 80% below 2006 levels, which would be possible through a number of existing authorities and programs already in existence, according to RCI affiliate Jeanne Herb.  Two Former New Jersey Governors, James Florio and Thomas Kean, cite the report in a recent NJ Spotlight Op-Ed NJ’s Next Gov. Can Make A Real Difference On Climate Change.

RCI affiliate Jennifer Francis was featured in a recent Washington Post article discussing the current debate surrounding melting Arctic sea ice and hurricanes. Francis theorizes that an increase in blocking events due to a weaker jet stream is consistent with the blocking events that led to storms such as Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Sandy. Although Francis clearly states that Harvey’s individual behavior can not be definitively linked to Arctic warming, it is consistent with a pattern in her hypothesis.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report titled Exploring the Translation of the Results of Hurricane Sandy Research Grant into Policy and Operations. The report examines the impact of scientific findings on disaster policy and operations. Opportunities to translate research findings towards future preparedness and recovery efforts are discussed.

RCI affiliate Malin Pinsky discusses the trends in warmer ocean waters off the coast of New England in a CBS News article. The warming in the Gulf of Maine from June to October has been so significant, the length of summer is being extended. Pinsky described the Gulf of Maine as ‘ground zero’ for experiencing the impacts of ocean warming.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report exploring viable alternatives to fuels and their environmental, economic, and social impacts titled Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing for Renewable Energy Technology Development to 2030.

The EPA has published  Bringing the Benefits of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to Low-Income Communities: Case Studies and Program Profiles showcasing efforts to bring energy efficiency and renewable energy to low-income communities. Programs were selected based on ability to achieve results, potential to be scalable, replicable, and sustainable.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published The Gulf Research Program Annual Report 2016. This report reviews accomplishments from the program in understanding the region’s interconnecting human, environmental, and energy systems and to use research to benefit Gulf communities and ecosystems.

RCI associate director Marjorie Kaplan and numerous affiliates were featured in the Daily Targum for their work towards receiving NIFA (National Food and Institute for Agriculture) grants. NIFA offers grants to support the advancement of agricultural research and education to solve societal challenges, according to RCI affiliate Janice McDonnell. This past year, the RCI collaborated on two NIFA grant applications:The Climate Adaptation Fellowship and Climate Masters Volunteers. According to Kaplan, the RCI is working on developing an education curriculum and training about climate change adaptation for farmers and foresters in the region as well as supporting climate-smart communities in the northeast.


With the support and cooperation from Rutgers University’s Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory, the Delaware Bay oyster industry is back and booming. RCI affiliate Dave Bushek confirms the oyster fishery is in great shape, indicating in a report last year that the industry is sustainable with oyster populations only increasing. Additionally, according to Bushek oysters are one of the most environmentally-sustainable products that exists with no fertilizer, pesticides, or antibiotics.  

New Jersey water usage is down according to NorthJersey.com, thanks in part to frequent rainfall this past summer. According to RCI affiliate David Robinson, most NJ locations were average to well above average in rainfall this summer. This follows very dry conditions during last summer, where the DEP issued its first drought warning in 15 years.

RCI affiliate Oscar Schofield discusses the conditions that are allowing for an active Atlantic hurricane season in The Inquirer. According to Schofield, warmer waters in the Atlantic are providing more available energy to any tropical system that forms. Coupled with sea level rise, impact from any given storm is expected to be greater in a warming climate. Finally, the transition of the equatorial Pacific from an El Nino to a La Nina state helps to decrease wind shear over the tropical Atlantic, favoring the formation of tropical cyclones. The Atlantic typically begins to cool in October, but as Sandy has shown, one should never let their guard down even towards the end of hurricane season.

RCI affiliate Cara Cuite discusses the people who would never leave, despite mandatory evacuation orders prior to a hurricane on Vox. The fear of homes being damaged or looted, or remembering weathering a previous storm are factors in why people stay behind, according to Cuite. Additionally, evacuation warnings can backfire. For instance, when people who do not need to evacuate decide to do so, they clog up roads, making it more difficult for vulnerable people to get out.


RCI affiliate Dave Robinson discussed this summer’s weather in an article about how rain forecasts negatively impacted tourism along the Jersey Shore. According to Robinson, rain fall on one-third of weekends and holidays over the summer, although rainfall totals were slightly below average in many places. Beach-goer’s ability to consult weather apps to make same-day decisions led to a decline in beach badge revenue of 8.3% at Seaside Heights through July 31st.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a new report titled Responding to the Threat of Sea Level Rise: Proceedings of a Forum. The future rate and extent of sea level rise and extent are discussed, reflecting important uncertainties.

RCI co-director Marjorie Kaplan discusses the implications of New Jersey possibly rejoining the Northeastern greenhouse gas trading program in a Bloomberg News article. New Jersey would be the third-largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the trading program and would send a signal that New Jersey is serious about addressing its carbon emissions

The Natural Resources Defense Council and the New York University Stern Center for Sustainable Business have released Catalyzing Green Infrastructure on Private Property: Recommendations for a Green, Equitable, and Sustainable New York City with recommendations for stimulating wide spread use of green infrastructure on private property, in order to help reduce stormwater runoff from existing development. The report presents an innovative approach to a large-scale green infrastructure grant program, which can be adapted by cities around the country, and which engages not only the private sector but also community-based organizations and the affordable housing sector. It also offers ways to leverage green infrastructure retrofit efforts with other local green building and sustainability initiatives that address private property.

Here Comes The Sun: A State Policy Handbook For Distributed Solar Energy is a new handbook from the National Conference of State Legislatures designed for state legislators, legislative staff, energy officials, and others who want to learn about and assess their state’s distributed solar photovoltaic policies. It provides tools to investigate options and practices to leverage the economic and reliability benefits of solar energy while addressing the challenges presented by this localized approach to energy generation.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has released A Century of Wildland Fire Research: Contributions to Long-term Approaches for Wildland Fire Management: Proceedings of a Workshop. Changes in geology, ecology, hydrology, and climate have created challenges towards managing wildland fires. This report focuses on how a century of wildland fire research can contribute to improving wildfire management, summarizing the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

Congratulations to RCI affiliate Pam McElwee author of Forests are Gold: Trees, People and Environmental Rule in Vietnam for winning the European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS) Book Prize for the best academic book on Southeast Asia published in the social sciences.  Read more about Professor McElwee’s book and award here.

RCI affiliate Malin Pinsky discusses ongoing research on the northward migration of marine organisms in NJMonthly. Warming ocean temperatures are playing a role in what is described as an ‘indisputable trend northward and downward (to greater depths)’. One local example includes the black sea bass, which has forsaken its traditional home off the coast of Virginia for waters off of New Jersey. The movement of marine wildlife has economic consequences for coastal fisheries, a cost that smaller operations can not easily take on.

State Department Publication Features Rutgers Polar Research!

Rutgers representatives working at the US Naval Arctic Research Laboratory, Point Barrow, Alaska, 1957. Left to right: Professor John Tedrow, William Gillis ‘55, Professor Russell Alderfer, John Cantlon ‘50, James Drew ‘52, Nathan Perselay ‘23, graduate student Lowell Douglass, Jerry Brown ‘58, with Ambercrombie the mascot. (Photo credit: Jerry Brown)

During the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council (April 2015- May 2017), the State Department created a blog post series on the relationship of each state to the Arctic, which culminated in the book Our Arctic Nation, published in 2017. The chapter on New Jersey features the research of several Rutgers faculty including Professor Jennifer Francis (Marine and Coastal Sciences), Professor Åsa Rennermalm (Geography),  Professor David Robinson (Geography), and Professor Hal Salzman (E.J. Bloustein School) as well as several Rutgers graduate students and discusses the long history of polar research at Rutgers.
You can view the book here.

Read the more in-depth original blog post Putting New Jersey on the Arctic Map: Rutgers University and The Garden State’s Arctic Connections which was published February 19, 2016 .