2020-2021 Academic Year

News and Highlights in February 2021

The U.S. will re-enter the Paris Agreement on February 19th, 2021. Multiple Rutgers faculty have played important roles in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an organization which provides the world’s governments with sound scientific information on climate change through Assessment Reports. SEBS/NJAES Newsroom released an interview with RCI Affiliates Michael Kennish, professor emeritus in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, who serves as an expert reviewer for the current assessment cycle, and Robert Kopp, director of the Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (EOAS) and a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, who is a lead author of the Sixth Assessment Report.


Mike Kennish
Mike Kennish


Low-tech strategies for fighting frost shouldn’t be ignored, reports Fruit Growers News. Rutgers Cooperative Extension Agent Hemant Gohil offers both passive and active ways to resist frost including winter weed management, delayed winter pruning, variety and site selection, and painting tree trunks and vines with white latex.

A new Rutgers study co-authored by RCI Affiliate Melissa Aronczyk examines the Data for Climate Action campaign, a set of public–private collaborations that wield user data to design innovative responses to the global climate crisis.

The Rutgers President’s Task Force on Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience released its Phase 2 Report: Current Status and Potential Solutions for a Carbon Neutral, Climate Resilient Rutgers. Following the Interim Report, this report includes analyses from the Climate Task Force’s seven working groups, a status update on the Climate Task Force’s planning process, and a summary of the November 2020 virtual town hall meetings. View the Phase 2 Working Group Reports on the Climate Task Force website.

Recent blockbuster snow totals along the East Coast may be tied to climate change, reports the Washington Post. As the climate warms, milder air is better able to hold water vapor and produce more burts of precipitation. “I absolutely believe there is the potential for ongoing, perhaps enhanced, snowstorms in the Northeast in the next few decades,” wrote RCI Affiliate Dave Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist and director of the Global Snow Lab at Rutgers University.

A Rutgers-led study has shed new light on how rocks rusted on Earth and turned red, reports Rutgers Today. This research will help address questions about a period when greenhouse gas levels were high, the Late Triassic climate, which may serve as a model for what Earth may be like in the future.

Call for Artists for NJ Climate Resilience Public Art Projects. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts seek artists, or artist teams, to create original, site-specific artwork and related community engagements that address the theme of climate resilience and coastal flooding, particularly as related to coastal communities in New Jersey. Apply here by March 18, 2021.

Congratulations to RCI Affiliates Pam McElwee, Associate Professor (Department of Human Ecology), and Malin Pinsky, Associate Professor (Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources), for being named Fellows of the Earth Leadership Program. The Earth Leadership Program provides outstanding academic researchers with the skills, approaches, and theoretical frameworks for catalyzing change to address the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges, emphasizing new forms of individual and collective leadership. 

Pam McElwee
Malin Pinsky


A Rutgers-led study solved an important climate change mystery, reports Rutgers Today. The study shows that the annual global temperature today is the warmest of the past 10,000 years, challenging long-held views on the temperature history in the Holocene era, which began about 12,000 years ago. “Our reconstruction shows that the first half of the Holocene was colder than in industrial times due to the cooling effects of remnant ice sheets from the previous glacial period – contrary to previous reconstructions of global temperatures,” said lead author Samantha Bova, a postdoctoral researcher associate in the lab of co-author and RCI Affiliate Yair Rosenthal “The late Holocene warming was indeed caused by the increase in greenhouse gases, as predicted by climate models, and that eliminates any doubts about the key role of carbon dioxide in global warming.”

A new Rutgers-led study shows that a nuclear war could trigger an El Niño-like warming episode in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, decreasing algal populations and likely lowering the fish catch, says Rutgers Today. “Turning to the sea for food after a nuclear war that dramatically reduces crop production on land seems like it would be a good idea,” said co-author and RCI Affiliate Alan Robock. “But that would not be a reliable source of the protein we need, and we must prevent nuclear conflict if we want to safeguard our food and Earth’s environment.”