2020-2021 Academic Year

News and Highlights in March 2021

RCI Affiliates Patricia Findley, Associate Professor and Director of the Master of Social Work Program, and Carrie Ferraro, Associate Director of the Coastal Climate Risk & Resilience Initiative Co-Facilitator, Rutgers Raritan River Consortium, discuss how to address climate change and anxiety in K-12 students with broadcaster Steve Adubato. Findley and Ferraro offer advice on how to provide age-appropriate solutions to children experiencing climate anxiety and what parents can do to help. 

According to a Rutgers-led study, sea-level rise in the 20th century was the fastest in 2,000 years along much of the east coast, reports Rutgers Today. “Having a thorough understanding of sea-level change at sites over the long-term is imperative for regional and local planning and responding to future sea-level rise,” said lead author Jennifer S. Walker. “By learning how different processes vary over time and contribute to sea-level change, we can more accurately estimate future contributions at specific sites.”

A ‘bottom-up’ plan is underway to catalogue NJ’s vulnerable coastal communities, reports NJ.com. Because every municipality has its own needs, a team of researchers from the DEP, Rutgers University, Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, and other environmental groups is working at the local level to map areas and avoid blind spots. “The result of this effort will be a mapped catalogue of sites and projects to help inform the DEP and others on where resources could be allocated for future projects,” said RCI Affiliate Richard Lathrop, director of Rutgers University’s Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis and one of the project’s leads. Lathrop notes, this will “….help the human and natural communities in the state’s coastal zone adapt to ongoing climate change and sea level rise.”

A Rutgers study finds that ‘ghost forests,’ or forests filled with standing dead trees, may become more common as sea levels rise, reports Rutgers Today. The study examines the impacts of climate change on coastal forest ecosystems, identifying knowledge gaps and potential management approaches. “Strategic land conservation and restoration of coastal areas are critical to provide space for coastal forests and adjacent salt marshes to move inland as the sea level rises,” said co author and RCI Affiliate Richard G. Lathrop Jr. Dr. Marjorie Kaplan, RCI Associate Director is also senior author.


Photo courtesy of Jennifer Walker


A Rutgers-led study shows that fishes contribute roughly 1.65 billion tons of carbon in feces and other matter annually, reports Rutgers Today. This new data will help scientists understand the impact of climate change and seafood harvesting on the role of fishes in carbon flux. “Our study is the first to review the impact that fishes have on carbon flux,” said lead author and RCI Affiliate Grace K. Saba. “Our estimate of the contribution by fish – about 16 percent – includes a large uncertainty, and scientists can improve it with future research. Forms of carbon from fish in ocean waters where sunlight penetrates – up to about 650 feet deep – include sinking fecal pellets, inorganic carbon particles (calcium carbonate minerals), dissolved organic carbon and respired carbon dioxide.”

The Rutgers Climate Task Force Student Advisory Panel needs your help! Share your relationship with the climate and environment and be featured on R Future, R Climate. Fill out the form here.

A research team from the Rutgers Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis, Stevens Institute of Technology, the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve has been awarded $775,000 to develop a watershed restoration plan for southern Barnegat Bay-Little Egg Harbor, reports SEBS and NJAES Newsroom. This project will assess problem areas for water quality degradation and identify management strategies to address non-point source pollution and storm water runoff.

Rutgers Sustainable Raritan River Initiative is partnering with the New York-New Jersey Harbor and Estuary Program (HEP) to undertake an “Aquatic Connectivity Through Climate-Ready Infrastructure” project on the Lower Raritan River watershed, reports SEBS and NJAES Newsroom. This project tackles climate resilience and ecosystem health, improving road-stream crossings at bridges and culverts that will help fish pass through and address issues that lead to flooding and erosion. “We see this project as a win-win: it will provide much-needed data on how to improve aquatic connectivity in the Lower Raritan watershed, as well as provide our students the opportunity to gain valuable field ecology training and experience,” noted fieldwork coordinator and RCI Affiliate Professor Richard Lathrop.

As water temperatures rise, Rutgers scientists breed tougher shellfish, reports NJ Spotlight. A new study from the Rutgers University Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory is working to selectively breed bay scallops and surf clams that can grow faster and withstand higher water temperatures, an impact of climate change.