2022-2023 Academic Year

News and Highlights in July 2023


Dr.Memo Cedeño Laurent, RCI affiliate

Recent Canadian wildfires (June 2023) resulted in one of the worst air quality episodes in the U.S. Northeast in recent history.  The air quality scientists at Rutgers University measured air quality during the peak of the incident with particulate matter (PM 2.5) concentrations greater than 300 ug/m3.  Air quality on this day affected more than 100 million people in the United States. RCI affiliate, Dr.Memo Cedeño Laurent noted that the “wildfires in Canada gave us a sobering demonstration of the climate change impacts on air quality.”  Read more about the Rutgers measurement campaign to characterize the physiochemical properties of wildfire on air pollution and other pilot projects with the Nanoscience and Advanced Materials Center (NAMC) and School of Public Health at Rutgers University here.



Professor Yair Rosenthal & Professor Ken Miller

A recent Rutgers-led study published in Nature analyzed ocean oxygen levels in the eastern equatorial Pacific, an area that today is highly oxygen deficient.  As levels of life-sustaining oxygen in the ocean have been decreasing, scientists have attributed the trend to climate change-induced rising temperatures. However, the new study found that oxygen levels in this area were higher during the Miocene warm period, when the Earth’s temperature was hotter than it is today.  Rutgers graduate student and lead study author Anya Hess noted, “This suggests that current oxygen loss may ultimately reverse.”   “These results were unexpected and suggest that the solubility-driven loss of oxygen that has occurred in recent decades is not the end of the story for oxygen’s response to climate change,” said  Professor Yair Rosenthal,  an RCI affiliate and study co-author.   RCI Affiliate, Professor Ken Miller is also a co-author of the study.




RCI Affiliate, David Robinson

Following an unusual winter due to lack of snowfall, the warmer months in New Jersey have also been showing somewhat unusual weather patterns. NJ.com recently published an article commenting on how New Jersey has yet to see an official heat wave (three straight days with temperatures reaching 90 degrees or higher) this summer.The article called upon RCI Affiliate, David Robinson to explain this trend. “There is a connection between the cooler weather coming into the region from Canada and the frequently smoky skies during a good portion of the past few months,” Robinson noted. “A large and very unusual dome of high pressure over central Canada and a persistent area of low pressure over the Northeast and Canadian Maritimes turned the winds to the northwest in our area, often bringing in the smoke.”




RCI Affiliate, Robert Kopp

An article published by The Philadelphia Inquirer, examines a recent report naming Philadelphia one of the top cities most at risk of extreme rains. The report looked at the widely used Atlas 14 flood precipitation frequency estimates by the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It concluded that they fall short because they are based on an outdated method that doesn’t account for climate change.The authors found significant differences across the country in NOAA Atlas precipitation estimates compared with actual rainfall risk in the area, meaning that current predictions of flood risk on people, communities, and property are too low. RCI Affiliate, Robert Kopp, said shortcomings with Atlas 14 are well-known, and that this new data set is a “reasonable approximation as to what we’ll see when NOAA releases their new Atlas.” 




RCI Affiliate Professor Emeritus Michael Kennish

Climate Change and Estuaries, is now in production by CRC Press for publication in the Marine Science Series. The book, which is the first comprehensive volume of its kind on this topic, is edited by RCI Affiliate Professor Emeritus Michael Kennish. Other Rutgers contributors include Professors Ken Able, Joanna Burger, Bob Chant, and Fernando Pareja. It will be published on September 25, 2023 and can be ordered on August 25, 2023.




RCI Affiliate, Dina Fonseca

CBS News Philadelphia has published a recent article regarding the tick population in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This summer season, there is a heightened tick population in the area, leading to questions about how factors like climate change are affecting population growth. RCI Affiliate, Dina Fonseca stated, "We are observing, from our surveillance right now, that the populations of blacklegged ticks, which are the most dangerous vectors of tickborne pathogens, are up." Regarding the idea that climate change is driving up the tick populations, Fonseca said "A mild winter is less likely to kill these tiny arthropods, these little ticks and mosquitos, etc.," However, there simply isn't enough data to make a definitive determination about tick populations." Are they above normal? We don't know," Fonseca said, "because there isn't really a long-term surveillance to be able to compare it to."