January 17, 2013

24th Annual Glen Gerberg Weather and Climate Summit: Rutgers Professor Discusses ‘Wacky Weather’. At a recent annual weather and climate summit held in Breckenridge, Colorado, Rutgers Professor and CECI affiliate Jennifer Francis gave a lecture entitled “Wacky Weather and the Disappearing Arctic Sea Ice: Are They Connected?” in which she presented her research on the effects of melting Arctic ice on the atmosphere, weather and climate for the rest of the globe. Francis detailed the “stunning” loss of Arctic sea ice over the past summer and linked it to the litany of extreme weather events that countries around the globe have experienced over the last year or so. The loss of sea ice in the Arctic means that the ocean absorbs much more energy from the sun than it normally would during the summer months, which has profound implications for moisture levels in the atmosphere and the strength and path of the jet stream. Francis even suggested that this dynamic may have been a driving factor in the intensity and unusual path taken by Hurricane Sandy which recently devastated large areas of the New Jersey and New York coastline.

January 17, 2013

Forum brings Experts, Municipal Officials Together to Discuss Increasing N.J. Flood Threat. Sustainable Jersey recently hosted a forum for planning experts, municipal officials and researchers at Rutgers University to discuss the challenges posed by climate change and how municipalities should guard themselves against coastal and inland flooding. Dave Robinson, Rutgers Professor and CECI affiliate, said that New Jersey should plan for more extreme weather and rising sea levels, which are estimated to be as much as three feet higher by 2100. Additionally, Lisa Auermuller of the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve and CECI affiliate, is developing a flood mapping tool called NJ Flood Mapper that will help municipal officials to simulate sea level rise in their communities and analyze what areas of their towns will become increasingly vulnerable over the next century.

January 21, 2013

Temperature Rising: How High Could the Tide Go? Researchers from Columbia University recently surveyed an ancient shoreline in South Africa that was seven miles inland and 64 feet above the current sea level. A growing body of evidence about ancient sea level fluctuations and past climate changes is alarming scientists to the potential degree of modern sea level rise as a result of climate change caused by human greenhouse gas emissions. Past research has indicated that a warming of the earth’s climate by only a couple degrees Fahrenheit can cause global sea level to rise by about 25 to 30 feet over time. However, experts predict that the earth’s climate may warm by as much as four to five degrees in the coming century, likely causing a very large increase in sea level that threatens to cause a humanitarian crisis lasting possibly hundreds of years.

January 26, 2013

Enjoying Snow, While We Still Have It. In a recent New York Times editorial, Rutgers climatologist and CECI affiliate Dr. David Robinson was cited for warning that, in general, climate change will bring an overall decline in snowfall, despite the fact that year-to-year fluctuations and regional differences may deceive casual observers. To illustrate this point, the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab reported that the Northern Hemisphere experienced its greatest snow coverage this past December since record keeping began in 1966. Yet, the recently released draft National Climate Assessment reports that compared to historical records, overall snow cover has decreased in the Northern Hemisphere, the frequency of very snowy winters has decreased and snow accumulations in the American West has declined as well.