2022-2023 Academic Year

News and Highlights in April 2023



Professor Robin Leichenko is named a 2023 AAG Fellow

Screenshot 2023 04 13 at 1.08.28 PM

Professor David Robinson receives the  François E. Matthes Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cryosphere Specialty Group of American Association of Geographers


Professor Ken Mitchell awarded Meredith F. Burill Award at AAG. 

American Association of Geographer’s 2023 Awards. Rutgers Climate Institute affiliates received recognition from their peers at the American Association of Geographers March 2023 meeting in Denver. RCI Affiliate, Robin Leichenko, was named an AAG Fellow. Learn more about Professor Leichenko’s AAG Honors and her accomplishments here. RCI Affiliate, David Robinson was awarded the François E. Matthes Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cryosphere Specialty Group for his contribution to snow research and monitoring of cryospherre scientists. Emeritus RCI Affiliate, Ken Mitchell awarded Meredith F. Burill Award for research excellence at the intersection of basic research in geography and policy. Read more here about Ken Mitchell’s recognition.




As the winter season comes to an end, NOAA’s spring outlook predicts an abnormally warm spring for New Jersey and surrounding states. Data from the office of RCI Affiliate, David Robinson, reports that 8 of NJ’s 15 warmest springs have occurred in the past 23 years. The recent trend could indicate climate change as driving the warmer weather patterns seen along the east coast.




RCI Affiliate Robert Kopp

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released a report outlining the path of our planet regarding global warming. The report stated Earth is on track to cross a critical threshold that would threaten the international goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In an interview with NJ Spotlight News, RCI Affiliate Robert Kopp discusses the report as well as the suggested solutions to the crisis.




RCI Affiliate Mark Paul

RCI Affiliate Mark Paul has co-authored An Economist's Case for Restrictive Supply Side Policy released in March 2023 which outlines 10 policies to actively wind down fossil fuel extraction. The report has been cited in several publications including the New York Times, as well as Grist. The New York Times article uses Paul’s report to support the idea that even with infinite clean energy, the use of fossil fuels must be replaced in order for the clean energy solutions to be most effective. The Grist article discusses a warning released by a panel of the world’s top climate scientists stating that the current climate policies in place are not enough. Paul states “The IPCC shows that restrictive supply-side measures have to be part of the policy mix. We actually need to stop extracting and burning fossil fuels, there’s just no way around it.”




RCI Affiliate, Stephanie Murphy

A New York Time article analyzed various at-home soil test kits to determine the best. However, due to inaccuracy and it's complicated nature, the Times study revealed that the best solution may be mailing the soil to a laboratory service for testing. While there are many reasons this is the best solution, RCI Affiliate, Stephanie Murphy, warns that you must be specific in asking for tests that are relevant to your needs. She states that labs usually do not test nitrogen levels, so it is important to decide which tests are necessary for the plants you are trying to grow. 




RCI Affiliate, Lisa Auermuller

At the end of September, the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve (JC NERR) partnered with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Rutgers University to publish the “Flood Exposure Assessment and Potential Adaptation Actions for Coastal Public Access Locations in New Jersey.” This project aimed to assess flood risk and develop options for building resilience to the impacts of flooding. One major contributor to this project was RCI Affiliate, Lisa Auermuller.




RCI Affiliate, Leonard Bielory

As the spring allergy season begins, warmer winters may be responsible for the increase in pollen. RCI Affiliate, Leonard Bielory, reports extremely high levels of pollen that have appeared earlier in the season. Bielory states, "As you move north, the change is that it starts earlier and ends later. What does it correspond to? Frost-free days." Bielory predicts this trend will increase in the coming decade.



One Rutgers University student, Journey Berry, is studying the impact of climate change on Bear Glacier Lagoon in Alaska. At 16 years old, Berry became the youngest girl to participate in Inspiring Girls Expeditions sea kayaking expedition, and now works as an instructor for similar excursions. “I think it’s the idea that there is always something new to discover,” she says. “There is so much about our planet that we have not discovered yet, whether it is below the ocean, high up in the mountains or among barren landscapes.” Barry recognizes RCI Affiliates Lauren Neitzke Adamo and Åsa Rennermalm as influential mentors.




RCI Affiliate, Alan Robock

A recent social media post claimed contrails from airplanes are being used to block the sun and protect the US from climate change. RCI Affiliate, Alan Robock, joins USA Today to debunk the claim. Robock states, "Contrails are simply water clouds resulting from jet exhaust."




RCI Affiliate, David Robinson

As a recent cluster of tornadoes touched down in New Jersey, questions are being raised about whether climate change is making NJ more tornado-prone. RCI Affiliate, David Robinson, assures there is no known relation between the two. Robinson states “While you’ll see on our (New Jersey tornado database) that April twisters are rare, and the February 2023 twister even more rare, there have been far too few of these events to recognize any change,” Robinson said. “With future warming, there may be a longer, but we’re unsure if more active, severe thunderstorm season due to warmer atmosphere and ocean temperatures here in the mid- Atlantic.” Robinson agrees that this longer thunderstorm season could potentially result in the atmospheric conditions needed to induce more tornadoes, but more time needs to pass and more data must be collected to claim a direct relationship.




RCI Affiliate, Malin Pinsky

The high number of dead whales washing ashore along the east coast has heightened the discussion regarding offshore wind projects in New Jersey. Pushback against the offshore wind farms has been increasing. NOAA officials said over the past several decades, more humpback whales have been seen in New York and New Jersey throughout the winter. RCI Affiliate, Malin Pinsky, says this is partly due to the whales following their food source. It's all part of a massive reorganization of life in the ocean as the sea temperatures rise, Pinsky said. Last year, "ocean heat content" spiked to its highest point on record since the 1950s, which has led to fish leaving their usual habitats for water more to their liking. Some whales have been observed feeding on prey close to shore, bringing them into areas with high vessel traffic where they are more at risk of getting hit.




RCI Affiliate, James Simon & RCI Affiliate, Xenia Morin

At the 2023 Garden State Film Festival, Fields of Devotion won the Best Short Documentary Award. This is the second award for the film, which was also awarded Best Climate Film by the New York Science and Nature Feedback Film and Screenplay Festival. The film features RCI Affiliate, James Simon, and RCI Affiliate, Xenia Morin, is the film's associate producer.




RCI Affiliate, Cymie Payne

RCI Affiliate, Cymie Payne, attended the March conference at the United Nation headquarters discussing the recent High Seas Treaty. Payne shared her knowledge of the treaty and involvement in the conference with Morning AgClips. Payne reported “We have an agreed text, so that is the starting point. Once it is adopted (likely in June), at least 60 countries must ratify the agreement. This may take three to five years. Meanwhile, we will continue our work, assisting with analysis and recommendations of how to implement the treaty.”




Scott Ordway, an RCI Affiliate

Scott Ordway, an RCI Affiliate, receives Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor-Provost Award for Excellence in Cross-Disciplinary Scholarship. The annual awards aim to recognize faculty members who have “made outstanding contributions through innovative teaching; cross- disciplinary research, inquiry, or artistic expression; public engagement; and service.”



Rutgers University will play a pivotal role in New Jersey’s move to become the first state in the U.S. to teach all public school students about climate change across all subjects, grades K - 12. Rutgers will be launching a series of workshops with NJ School teachers to collaborate on approaches of implementing climate change into the curriculum. RCI Affiliate, Janice McDonell, states “Our overarching goal is to help teachers empower young people to understand climate change and have the agency to develop and implement solutions.” RCI Associate Director Marjorie Kaplan, and RCI Affiliates Carrie Ferraro and James Shope, along with McDonnell are part of the program planning team.