2021-2022 Academic Year

News and Highlights in March 2022

Robin Leichenko, RCI Co-director

RCI Co-director Leichenko receives 2022 AAG Research Excellence Award

Congratulations to RCI Co-director Robin Leichenko recipient of the 2022 Research Excellence Award from the Human Dimensions of Global Change Specialty Group at the American Association of Geographers. The Research Excellence Award recognizes a scholar for research contributions that advance fundamental understanding to the human dimensions of global change. Leichenko is a Professor in the Rutgers Department of Geography. Her research intersects the fields of economic geography and human dimensions of global environmental change. She is the author of the Climate and Society: Transforming the Future (with Karen O’Brien, Polity Press, 2019) and Environmental Change and Globalization: Double Exposures (with Karen O’Brien, Oxford University Press, 2009) which won the 2009 Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography from the American Association of Geographers. In addition to her teaching and research, Leichenko serves as a Co-chair for the fourth New York City Panel on Climate Change assessment and is a member of the Community Advisory Group to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

NJ Spotlight News reports on a message delivered by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. He urged residents to avoid the roads. The storm came after a burst of warm weather, where temperatures nearly reached 60 degrees Fahrenheit. “All of those surprises are not so pleasant and we can even have substantial snowstorms in April,” said Dr. Anthony Broccoli, professor of Environmental Science at Rutgers University and RCI co-director. “Although most of the time the snowiest period is tapering off by the time we get to the middle of March.”

TAPinto Hamilton reports that the Rutgers University Center for Urban Sustainability has released a study on Mercer County parks. The report included recommendations to remove diseased ash trees, expanding the monitoring of rare native species threatened by invasive vegetation, and implementing green stormwater management practices to enhance watershed health and overall user experiences in the parks.

The UN released a new climate report, with grim predictions for low-lying coastal cities like New York City, reports the Gothamist. Deadly heat waves and sea level rise could render parts of Lower Manhattan inhabitable. Experts urge decisive action to limit global warming. The new assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) represents a consensus from 195 UN member countries. The panel found that there is now a greater than 50% chance that the Earth warms more than the 1.5 Celsius benchmark, which experts believe is a critical temperature where catastrophic events are more likely to happen. Extreme flooding is expected to increase by about 20% if sea levels rise more than six inches by 2040. Daniel Van Abs, an RCI affiliate and Rutgers Professor, said “Storms have become much bigger [and] basically sea level rise turns a moderate storm into a disaster because the water penetrates so much farther inland.” The rise would also affect subway and sewer systems in addition to the above-ground implications in Lower Manhattan. “For several days after [Hurricane Sandy], we put a lot of sewage back into the harbor,” Van Abs said. “It’s very damaging and expensive to recover from.” Others commented on the effect climate change would have on the economy. Inflation and supply chain disruptions result from climate change. Construction and transportation is also disrupted. “Climate change needs to be central to all the decision-making we do from here on out,” said Pam McElwee, a professor at Rutgers and an RCI affiliate. “It literally affects everything we do in every sector of our lives, and we ought to treat it as such and make policies as such.”