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Poster Authors Title
Therese Apuzzo (Department of Biology and Behavioral Neuroscience, Rider University) Kerrie Sendall (Department of Biology and Behavioral Neuroscience, Rider University) Phenological variation in a common garden experiment

The length and timing of tree species’ growing seasons play a crucial part in annual growth and survival, and changes in phenology in response to climate change have been observed globally. Phenology impacts tree growth and productivity, frost risk, reproductive fitness, success of invasive species, and abundance and health of herbivores, making its understanding essential for predicting future community success. The goal of this ongoing common garden experiment is to compare the timing of phenological stages of seedlings sourced from different latitudes (38°N and 44°N) to better understand how northern and southern populations respond to the current climate of central New Jersey (40°N). We recorded the timing of phenological events (bud break, presence of a fully expanded leaf, majority of leaves fully expanded, onset of senescence, and end of leaf drop) over the 2023 growing season for sugar maple, red oak, and white oak. We found that the southern population experienced earlier budbreak and leaf out, leading to an extended growing season compared to the northern seedlings. These findings suggest that assisted migration of common tree species from populations located further south in their ranges may be beneficial for the long-term success of species under the current and future climate.

Diogo S.A. Araujo (Rutgers), James Shope (Rutgers), Lucas Marxen (Rutgers), Marjorie Kaplan (Rutgers), Efthymios I. Nikolopoulos (Rutgers) Analysis of Future Drought Risk in the State of New Jersey

Droughts pose significant risk to the economy, society, and the environment. Climate change, associated with increasing temperature and changes in spatiotemporal distribution of precipitation, is expected to intensify drought impacts in the future in many parts of the world. Developing effective drought mitigation strategies requires advancing our understanding on the future changes of drought characteristics (intensity, severity and duration) across space and time. To address this challenge, we have developed a novel dataset of historic (1980-2014) and future (2015-2100) drought indices (SPI and SPEI) at high spatial (6km) and monthly temporal resolution based on the latest version (v2) of the Localized Constructed Analogs (LOCA) downscaled climate projection data. Downscaled climate data from sixteen general circulation models and three shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs) from the LOCA dataset have been analyzed to estimate changes in drought characteristics between the historic and future periods. Results are used to identify hotspots of drought risk in the state of New Jersey, their dependence on emission scenarios, and their temporal dynamics.

David Bazzett (Rutgers University), Dr. Roger Wang (Rutgers University) Deciphering Sediment Dynamics in Evolving Aquatic Environments: Assessing the Hyperspectral Signatures

Understanding sediment transport in rivers and coastal systems is crucial in understanding how these systems evolve, and excessive erosion and deposition can impact natural ecosystems and human infrastructure. Estimating suspended sediment in rivers is largely done through direct sampling, which is time and labor-intensive and provides low-resolution spatiotemporal data. Hyperspectral imagery (HSI) may provide a solution to this issue. Hyperspectral cameras can provide unique insights on data collected from the visible spectrum and infrared: such cameras have been used to gain insights in mineralogy, forestry, and crop health from remote systems. It is hypothesized that HSI data may be used to calculate sediment size and concentration from an image of suspended sediment. To test this, we used a hyperspectral camera to take images of various concentrations of different-sized sediments. Preliminary data from these experiments shows that different sediment concentrations have distinct patterns if the concentration is high enough, and finer sediments are easier to recognize than coarse ones.

Rebecca Beadling (Temple University) and students enrolled in Observing and Modeling Climate Change (Temple University) Teaching Climate Change through Data Analysis and Open Science

A new course, Observing and Modeling Climate Change, is underway in Temple University’s (TU) Earth and Environmental Science Department (EES). In Observing and Modeling Climate Change, students gain a foundational understanding of anthropogenic climate change and explore the evidence directly through analysis and visualization of real-world observational datasets. After investigating observational evidence, we build an understanding of climate models, the experiments performed including climate projections, and how to access, analyze, and visualize publicly available model output. Along the way, students gain experience in open-source tools used to analyze and visualize observational datasets and climate model output. All course content and assignments are centered around the use of Jupyter Notebooks and all assignments are turned in and delivered via GitHub, with the course ran using virtual machines deployed in Microsoft’s Azure Lab. Students first gain the foundations of the Unix Command Line Interface, Python, and version control using Git and GitHub. The course is designed to move from analyzing 1-dimensional observational datasets through 4D time-evolving ocean and atmospheric fields from climate models. During the final 4 weeks, students apply their knowledge and skills to a student-led project that investigates an aspect of our changing climate, culminating in a final presentation.

Journey Berry (Rutgers University), Asa Rennermalm (Rutgers University), Erin Pettit (Oregon State University), Aurora Roth (UC San Diego), Lucy Waghorn (Oregon State University), Lucy Wanzer (Oregon State University), Celia Trunz (Oregon State University), Nicole Abib (University of Oregon), Taryn Black (University of Washington) Historical Evolution and Future Retreat of Bear Glacier, Alaska

Bear Glacier, flowing from the Harding Ice Field into Bear Glacier Lagoon within Kenai Fjords National Park, is a fast-changing lake-terminating glacier. Glacier retreat created the Bear Glacier lagoon only 60-70 years ago. Since then, the glacier has retreated 6.73 km in pulses and created the 23.6 km^2 lagoon. The continued retreat will expand the size of the lagoon, which is important for local ecosystem dynamics. The retreat will also reduce the volume of the Harding Ice Field and shift glacial flow patterns that may affect other outlet glaciers. The Bear Glacier lake system is sensitive to ice-marginal outburst floods that have suggested to both accelerate and destabilize sections of the lower terminus, as well as breach the moraine that separates the lake from the ocean, altering water properties and circulation. Too few observations exist currently to explain these lake-glacier processes in detail. Here, however, we present new data that help outline key mechanisms governing the glacier-lake interactions. By using historical maps and satellite imagery, we describe the evolution of Bear Glacier Lagoon from the 1950s to present. Our analysis gives insights into the dynamics of ocean-influenced lake-terminating glaciers, which may become more prevalent as glaciers and ice sheets retreat.

Shannon Dickey (Rutgers University), Julie Lockwood (Rutgers University) Harnessing the Power of eDNA Metabarcoding to Monitor Salt Marsh Biodiversity

Sea level rise is one of the leading threats to salt marshes globally contributing to the loss of habitat and biodiversity. Long-term monitoring is key to adaptive management and identifying shifts in species composition. Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding is an emerging molecular tool that can characterize entire ecological communities. Salt marsh pools are an excellent candidate for eDNA metabarcoding because they serve as critical resources for migratory birds and commercially valuable fishes, therefore capable of capturing the seasonal movement of species. Our objective is to evaluate the success of eDNA metabarcoding to detect the diversity of birds and fishes in the marsh. We will apply eDNA metabarcoding techniques to collect and analyze aquatic, marsh pool samples. The Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve supports thousands of migratory birds and commercially valuable marine, and estuarine fishes annually and thus is an ideal location to test our eDNA methods. We expect that eDNA metabarcoding will capture more fishes and birds present in the reserve than traditional approaches. By incorporating eDNA metabarcoding into routine biodiversity assessments, coastal managers have the necessary information to inform decisions and promote restoration initiatives.

Nuzhat Fatema (PhD Student, Department of Geography, Rutgers University), Mustafa Saroar, Khulna University of Engineering & Technology) Community based approach to build city resilience through nature based solution in coastal Khulna city, Bangladesh: A scoping study

The nature based solution (NBS) to build resilience has been emerged as a new research frontier in sustainability science. However, overwhelming majority of researches are done in the areas of coastal forestry, fisheries, agriculture, and disaster management taking regional development in perspective. There is considerable gaps in research that explored the potential and challenges of NBS to build city resilience where local communities is the lead actor. This research fills this knowledge gaps in three ways. First, it has identified the pathway how a host of NBS that are adopted by communities, build their resilience against various climatic events. Second, it has appraised the challenges that they encounters to scale up highly potential NBSs to build community resilience.
This research is heavily draws on literature review and qualitative inquiry. The empirical part of this research is done taking coastal Khulna city as a case. Focus group discussion (FGD) and key informant interview (KII) are the key research instrument that were employed to collect data and information. Findings shows a hosts of NBSs they adopt to build the resilience of their occupation, transport and mobility infrastructures, park, playground and other community infrastructures, and drainage and sewerage infrastructures. The rely on a combination of portfolios of NBS to build their resilience against multiplicity of climatic and related events including flooding/water logging, torrential rainfall, hailstorms, heat wave. The NBS that have been appears most effective are the restoration of natural canals, rooftop gardening, rainwater harvesting, urban greening, and pond and wetland restoration. However, they encounters an array of problems which include access to finance, technology, training, and organization issues.
The NBS has immense potentials to build resilience through community based approaches; however, the challenges need to address from a wider perspective covering policy, finance and technology. This scoping study would inform formulation of a bigger project to inform the policy process aimed at building sustainable community resilience.

Md Arafat Hassan (Rutgers University), Asa Rennermalm (Rutgers University) Journey Berry (Rutgers University), Jing Xioa(Rutgers University) Mapping Supraglacial Stream Networks Using Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle in Southwest Greenland

Mapping supraglacial streams is critical for better understanding the stream networks’ change over the melting season and their influence on meltwater delivery to the moulins. Mapping ice sheet surface feature with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is advantageous because compared to satellite imagery, UAV imagery has very high resolution capable of capturing the finest centimeter scale details of the surface stream network and is not obstructed by cloud cover. Here, we analyze UAV imagery collected on the Southwest Greenland ice sheet ablation zone in 2016, 2019 and 2023. We are exploring both manual, labor intensive supervised classification methods and automated, machine learning techniques to map supraglacial features like streams, snow patches, ice, cryoconite holes, and stream sediment. The three years provide data collected at different times in the melting season, from the early melt season when the stream network is largely undeveloped and covered by snow patches, to the peak season when the stream network is at its greatest extent. From processing the imagery, we mapped three years’ stream network at Southwest Greenland; from comparing them, we see that the network is limited at June, develops throughout the season, and reaches its peak at August.

Ganesh Hegde (Princeton University), Cecelia Isaac (Princeton University), Chris Greig (Princeton University), Jesse Jenkins (Princeton University) Limited land availability complicates India’s energy transition

India’s resources are concentrated on limited land. Transition to Net-zero emissions energy systems will require a large buildout of infrastructure across the country. At the same time the growing population and national developmental needs will be requiring additional expansion of agriculture, public infrastructure and urban development. Our project examines land availability as well as additional challenges in renewables siting, including site fragmentation, disconnects between high-capacity sites and load centers, and unequal distribution of resources across the country.

Christopher Kane (Rutgers University) The Research is Compelling: Now Society Needs the Speed of Collaborative Solutions For Climate Resiliency and Adaptation Actions

Research has messaged a compelling picture of our climate future. Societal reaction has not mirrored the urgency of this message. I argue that the use of collaborative governance, consensus-building and mediation methods is necessary in order to successfully Implement Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Projects.

A regional case in point, the resiliency and adaptation solutions of lower Manhattan are hampered by the numerous stakeholders, conflicting interests and slow project delivery methods. Ten years after Superstorm Sandy, only part of this area has begun building true flood protection infrastructure and another 15 years may be required to complete all of the protections. In the past, 25 years might be considered “quick” to conceive, approve, permit, finance, design and construct a multi-billion urban project like this. However, time is truly of the essence. Losses from another single Sandy-type event could exceed the costs of the protection needed.

Effective collaborative tools are available and must be applied to meet the need for speed in implementing building resiliency and adaptation projects. Improved conflict mitigation, early resolutions and decision-making, and mediation methods can help accelerate the path to reach sustainable solutions and avoid additional losses. My case-study projects explore how mediators and facilitators can help those efforts by using some best practices in stakeholder engagement, interest-based negotiations and application of mediation. The goal is to demonstrate how these tools offer a real opportunity to translate research results into building broad-based support and implement creative long-term solutions on a much quicker timeline.

Chao Liao (Princeton University), Sarina Wen (Princeton University), Sakhi Shah (Princeton University), Tessa Lowinske Desmond (Princeton University), Chris Smith (The Utopian Seed Project), Jonathan M. Conway (Princeton University) Increasing okra seed oil content by natural breeding and identifying the related genetic markers

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) is a heat-loving plant with an average seed oil content of approximately 20%. Due to climate change, okra can be widely used as an alternative plant to support food and energy. The aim of this study was to elevate okra seed oil content through natural breeding, followed by genotyping of the okra to correlate seed oil content phenotypes to genetic markers. In summer 2023, we grew 1541 second-generation (F2) okra seedlings resulting from 9 distinct initial parental crosses of high seed oil okra varieties. After four months of growth, three okra pods from each plant were harvested for seed oil content determination using time-domain nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Okra leaves from each plant were collected for DNA extraction. The DNA from parent okra will be used for whole genome sequencing, and that from the F2 okra will be used for genotyping through genotyping by sequencing. Genetic variant analysis will be conducted between okra with remarkably higher seed oil content and parent okra to identify the potential oil-content-related genes. This study will not only contribute to breeding okra with high seed oil content but also facilitate an understanding of the relationship between genotypes and seed oil content phenotypes.

Ben Lintner (Rutgers New Brunswick), James Shope (Rutgers New Brunswick), Amy Savage (Rutgers Camden), Memo Cedeno (Rutgers New Brunswick), Hao Wang (Rutgers New Brunswick), Roger Wang (Rutgers New Brunswick) Assessing the Camden area urban heat island (UHI) effect for applications in urban human and natural community health

It is well known that urban cores experience elevated warming relative to surrounding regions, i.e., the urban heat island (UHI) effect. However, it is unclear how the UHI and the land cover heterogeneity of the urban mosaic influence local scale manifestation of heat extremes, such as during a heatwave. In ongoing work funded by the Rutgers Research Incubator in Climate and Health program, we focus on the Camden area UHI to (i) assess to what extent the UHI may amplify extreme temperatures; and to (ii) quantify how health-relevant exposure temperatures are locally influenced by fine-scale urban surface characteristics. Here we present preliminary results analyzing in situ meteorological observations from the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist mesonet along with gridded temperature and satellite remote sensing products. We also highlight planned deployment of additional weather observation platforms in Camden to enhance the existing monitoring network at high urban density. Our efforts here are aimed at informing temperature exposure for two ongoing projects on urban ant communities as bioindicators of ecosystem health and subclinical heat exposure metrics for human health, with a longer-term objective of maintaining a distributed urban field laboratory for the study of the climate-health nexus in cities.

Ana Llurba (Rutgers University) Scaling Up our Imagination of the Human: Deep Histories in Contemporary Latin American Fiction

It has only been in the last few centuries, as Dipesh Chakrabarty (2009:206) states, that the human species has become a geological agent. As a chronological scale that exceeds the human capacity to measure time, the representation of deep history (Chakrabarty, 2009:214) in contemporary Latin American fiction may be a suggestive way to become aware of this rich multi-temporal entanglement that has been simplified by a linear, anthropocentric and recorded time that imposes a rhythm to the story of human history. For this purpose I will analyze this in Bolivian writer Liliana Colanzi’s La cueva (2022) and Roberto Chuit Roganovich’s Quiebra el álamo (2022, Argentina), as well as in Chilenian writer Mike Wilson’s novel Dios duerme en la piedra (2022) through the concepts of Deep History, and Dipesh Chakrabarty’s Species History of the Human (2009:212) as well as Geophysical Imagination elaborated by Alexa Weik von Mossier (2012:88).

While none of these stories directly address the issue of Climate Change, the planetary ecological crisis, or the Anthropocene agenda, the multi-temporality their plots present may express that which Lisa Sideris (2012:95) claims Dipesh Chakrabarty (2009: 20o2) considers impossible: “a phenomenology of us as a species, an emotional or experiential identification with the concept of species.” That is, perhaps in fiction we can find ways to experience the non-human multi-temporality with which the Anthropocene, “the geological age of the human species” is challenging us.

Mildred López Escudero (Rutgers University- New Brunswick) Monarch Butterflies, Day of the Dead, and Climate Change: An example on how to integrate Culture and Awareness in the World Language Curriculum

Since 2020 New Jersey has adopted a new Student Learning Standards which include climate change across content areas. Schools are encouraged to utilize these standards to develop interdisciplinary units focused on climate change that include authentic learning experiences, integrate a range of perspectives, and are action oriented. For this poster, I propose a lesson plan integrating culture and climate change awareness on the topic of the Monarch Butterflies migration and the Day of the Dead. Since Monarch butterflies are very sensitive to changes in temperature, their migration and hibernation cycles are affected by these changes. Higher temperatures and erratic freezing events threaten the butterflies’ ability to survive. Climate change is reducing the amount of time that Monarch butterflies spend laying their eggs and making it difficult for them to endure harsh conditions for more than a few hours. Climate change, loss of breeding habitat, hibernation habitat, land cultivation, and the use of agrochemicals could threaten the Monarch Butterfly. My lesson not only include awareness throughout diverse class activities, but also propose alliances with local organization like Rutgers Gardens or The Nature Conservancy (New Jersey) to create pollinator gardens with native plants (like milkweed) which attract Monarch Butterflies during their migration route to Mexico.

Kristi MacDonald (Raritan Headwaters Association) Melissa Mitchell Thomas (Raritan Headwaters Association) Raritan Sentinel Climate Stations

Raritan Headwater Association (RHA) is a non-profit conservation organization with a mission of protecting and restoring watershed health in the 470-m2 Upper Raritan River Region of New Jersey. RHA’s stream monitoring program provides valuable data on biological, habitat, and chemical parameters from over 72 stream sites. Summer stream temperature data indicates that most of the streams in the region are above NJ’s Surface Water Quality Standards, which puts the region’s coldwater ecosystems at risk and contributes to problems such as Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). To better understand the impacts of climate change on the region’s stream ecosystems, RHA initiated the Raritan Sentinel Climate Station project. In 2022, 5 Mayfly-DIY Climate Stations were deployed in major rivers of the Upper Raritan (the North Branch Raritan, South Branch Raritan, Black River) as well as in the Lower Raritan, just below the confluence. Every 15 minutes, the stations record conductivity, depth, and temperature, which is then sent via cellular technology to RHA’s Climate Dashboard The project is establishing baseline conditions and over the long-term will provide data that will inform policies, identify targets for mitigation, and allow for studies of the impacts of climate change on coldwater streams.

Lauren Madden (The College of New Jersey) Charting the Course for Climate Change Education in New Jersey

New Jersey is the nation’s leader in climate change education, as demonstrated by the announcement of comprehensive K-12 climate change education standards in 2020. Beginning in September 2022, explicit instruction on the topic is required in K-12 schools across all grade levels and subject areas. Researchers at The College of New Jersey, in partnership with colleagues from across the state and beyond, have been studying the state’s readiness to make this change and initial experiences with implementation. Data sources include parent and teacher surveys, classroom observations, and focus group discussions. Furthermore, professional development and instructional materials for preservice and practicing teachers are being developed, and implemented, and initial findings throughout the process have been shared through the media and scholarly output. This poster will highlight the scope of this work and initial findings that have emerged.

Souvik Mandal (Rutgers University), Santanu Malakar (Rutgers University), Nicholas Lease (Rutgers University), Thomas J. Emge (Rutgers University), Faraj Hasanayn (American University of Beirut), Alan S. Goldman (Rutgers University) The effect of protonation on nitrogen splitting by a dinitrogen-bridged d4-d4 diarylamino-based PNP molybdenum complex

Ammonia production is critical to the well-being of society as the source of synthetic fertilizer, and it has great potential for energy storage and transportation. Unfortunately, the only commercial process for ammonia synthesis is the Haber-Bosch process (HB) which is responsible for 2% of global fossil fuel consumption and co-production of commensurate amount of CO2 with the attendant contribution to climate change. In this context we are investigating more sustainable synthesis of ammonia by reduction of N2 utilizing molecular catalysts, an approach that has gained significant attention since Schrock’s seminal report in 2003. Our focus has been on dinitrogen reduction proceeding through bimetallic N2 cleavage.
Herein we describe the synthesis and characterization of a PNP-pincer-ligated Mo(IV) complex (PNP = Ozerov’s diaryl-based pincer ligand), (PNP)MoIVX3 (1) (X= Cl, Br, I). Two-electron reduction under N2 atmosphere leads to formation of a dinitrogen-bridged complex [(PNP)MoIIX]2(-N2) (4-X) which is only the third example of a fully characterized dinitrogen complex with an 8--electron dimolybdenum system and the first to catalytically produce ammonia (TON = 6 equiv/[Mo]).
Under thermal conditions 4-I splits onto the corresponding nitride (5-I) with an experimentally determined kinetic barrier of 29 kcal/mol while the kinetic barrier calculated with DFT is 30 kcal/mol. The nitride (5-I) can also be formed by photolysis. Addition of two equivalents proton source to the dimer results in rapid formation of a kinetic product which we propose to be the Mo-protonated dimer. Cleavage of the N2 bridge follows to yield a protonated nitride (6-I), which can also be formed directly by the reaction of the nitride (5-I) with one equivalent of proton. DFT calculations are in agreement with our observations, indicating that protonation of Mo is followed by proton transfer to the N2 bridge, with the overall kinetic barrier to N2 splitting greatly lowered. We are currently investigating the structure of the initial protonation product. Investigation of the overall catalytic N2 reduction using electrochemical methods is currently underway.

Ashley Murphy (Rider University) Dr. Kerrie Sendall (Rider University) Therese Apuzzo (Rider University) Germination Rate of Ginkgo, Red Maple and Yellow Birch Under Heat and Precipitation Stress

Understanding the response of forest species to climate change is vital for future success of these ecosystems. The climate of New Jersey is expected to become warmer and wetter under many climate scenarios, though periods of drought will still occur. The goal of this study is to investigate the effects of warming, soil water, and their combined effects on the germination rates of common tree species (red maple, yellow birch, and ginkgo biloba). Seeds were grown in one of three temperature-controlled growth chambers set at ambient summertime conditions, +2°C above ambient, and +4°C above ambient. Within each chamber, subsets of each species were watered to typical summertime conditions (moderate), dryer than average, and wetter than average. Measurements are still ongoing, but preliminary results show that +2°C and +4°C warming led to increased rates of germination for all species in the moderate and wet soil conditions. However, while the +2°C warming increased germination in the dry treatment, we saw reduced germination in the dry +4°C treatment. Red maple responded most positively to warming, but was negatively impacted in both the wet and dry soil conditions. These findings suggest that soil water may constrain species-specific responses to temperature under future climate scenarios.

Rose Ogutu (Delaware State University), Gulnihal Ozbay (Delaware State University), Rosalyn Battle (Delaware State University) AI-Climate Broadens Outreach to Underserved Audiences

Artificial Intelligence (AI)-Climate Institute, consisting of six institutions (Delaware State, Colorado State, Cornell, Minnesota, North Carolina State, and Purdue) is bolstering collaborative research across the country to scale up solutions to the tremendous challenges associated with climate change. AI enabled technologies will help farmers and foresters improve yields and use resources more sustainably to reduce the agricultural sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change requires concerted societal action, in which machine learning can play an impactful role. The issue is pressing, with major implications for societal well-being, particularly for the world’s most disadvantaged populations. Stakeholders want accurate information on impacts, risks, and projections of climate change. Addressing climate change requires rapid, sustained, equitable, and scientifically informed efforts that optimize carbon sequestration in mitigation and adaptation, in conjunction with relevant stakeholders.
Delaware State University, 1890 Institution, will play the pivotal role of reaching out to underrepresented groups with Climate smart practices. Using approaches that respect their independence and cultural practices, University of Minnesota will engage the Native American community. Through their well-developed Education and Extension programs in Climate Science, Cornell and Purdue are a great resource. AI Climate constituents will work together for five years and beyond, to deliver major societal impacts.

Colleen Ritter (Rider University), Kerrie Sendall (Rider University), Artur Stefanski (University of Minnesota), Raimundo Bermudez Villanueva (University of Minnesota) Gas exchange of sugar maple and bur oak populations under warming and drought

Understanding tree species’ responses to climate change is integral for the continued success of forest ecosystems. Boreal Forest Warming at an Ecotone in Danger (B4WarmED) is a long-term ecological experiment in Minnesota examining the effects of experimental warming, drought, and their combined effect on temperate and boreal species. This study focused on populations of sugar maple and bur oak seedlings that were either locally-adapted to Minnesota conditions or relocated from more southern or northern latitudes. Photosynthetic rates were measured in August 2023, allowing us to determine species-specific responses to warming and drought, as well as to investigate whether populations sourced from different latitudes responded differently to treatments. We found that photosynthetic rates of sugar maple seedlings varied depending on source; northern populations had reduced photosynthetic rates and southern populations had increased photosynthetic rates relative to locally-adapted populations. Photosynthetic rates of sugar maples were enhanced by the warming treatment, while bur oaks were negatively affected by warming; both had reduced photosynthetic rates in drought conditions compared to ambient. These findings suggest that assisted migration of common tree species from populations located further south in their ranges may be beneficial for the long-term success of some, but not all, species under future climate conditions.

Tori Rosen (Rutgers University), Erin Quinn, Norah Pereira, Layla Elkhateib, Albert Ayeni, Qingli Wu, Ramu Govindasamy, James Simon Amaranth as a Climate-Resilient, Nutrient-Dense, Culturally-Preferred Crop to be Integrated in New Jersey Agriculture

Demand for culturally preferred leafy greens in the US is rising rapidly due to the increased awareness among cultural groups about their culinary heritage and the desire for diverse and healthy diets. This demand is heightened when considering the disproportional effects of food insecurity on minoritized ethnic populations. Leafy green amaranth (Amaranthus spp.) is a crop of economic and nutritional importance among ethnic minority communities within the Northeastern United States and around the world. Consumer surveys along the Eastern U.S. targeted amaranth as a top 10 desired leafy green among Asian Indian, Chinese, and Mexican consumers, though it has limited market availability in the U.S.3 It is a heat-loving and drought-tolerant crop that exhibits a strong resiliency to climate change and abiotic stress and has the potential to supplement locally grown spinach in summer months, due to its similar flavor and nutrient density. Its production is limited by a lack of consistent germplasm, standardized growing practices, and ultimately a lack of mainstream consumer awareness of this promising crop. As New Jersey experiences increased average temperatures throughout the summer, it is important to identify climate-resilient crops that can thrive in these new conditions. Our research aims to address the importance of adjusting New Jersey agricultural products to reflect its rapidly changing climate and diversifying population.

Kerrie Sendall (Rider University), Cyd Melendez Munos (Rider University), Angela Ritter (Rider University), Roy Rich (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center), Genevieve Noyce (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center), Pat Megonigal (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center) Effects of warming and elevated CO2 on stomatal conductance and chlorophyll fluorescence of C3 and C4 coastal wetland species

Coastal salt marsh communities provide numerous valuable ecosystem services such as flood and erosion prevention, soil accretion, and essential habitat for coastal wildlife, but are some of the most vulnerable to the threats of climate change. This work investigates the combined effects of two climate stressors, elevated temperature and elevated CO2, on leaf physiological traits of dominant salt marsh plant species. The research took place in 2017 and 2018 at the Salt Marsh Accretion Response to Temperature eXperiment (SMARTX) in the Kirkpatrick Marsh at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Maryland, which includes two different plant communities: a C3 sedge community and a C4 grass community. SMARTX consists of plots arranged across an active heating gradient consisting of unheated ambient plots and plots that are heated to 1.7, 3.4, and 5.1 °C above ambient. In the C3 community, there are six additional plots with elevated carbon dioxide chambers, half at ambient temperatures and half heated to +5.1 °C above ambient. The warming treatment had smaller effects on leaf physiological traits than expected, which we attribute at least in part to the much higher than average precipitation that fell in 2018. The lack of water stress likely allowed plants to maintain high rates of stomatal opening since water was not limiting, and thus reduce heat stress via evaporative cooling. When we tested the effect of CO2 addition at the warming extremes (ambient and +5.1 °C) on the C3 sedge, we found significant reductions in stomatal conductance in response to both. We also found a significant positive relationship between the quantum yield of photosynthesis and stomatal conductance for both C3 and C4 species growing under ambient CO2, indicating that declines in stomatal conductance cause higher levels of thermal stress in both plant communities, likely due to reductions in evaporative heat loss.

James Shope (Rutgers University), David Robinson (Rutgers University), Robert Muldowney (Rutgers University), Peter Oudemans (Rutgers University) Predictive models of highbush blueberry development with implications for future climate change

Highbush blueberry peak budbreak (T3p) and bloom onset (BO) are important annual phenological stages in the cultivation of blueberries. While complex, blueberry development is strongly influenced by seasonal temperatures, particularly winter chilling and spring warming. Ten “Duke” variety highbush blueberry bushes in Hammonton, New Jersey were monitored for annual phenological development between 2000 and 2022 and historical climate data were utilized to model the effect of the rate of winter chilling and spring warming on the timing of the observed phenology. Chilling was evaluated across four different models computed between annual days 1 and 60 and warming was calculated as growing degree day accumulation between days 60 and 80. Two multiple linear models were developed to predict annual T3p and BO, each with an R2 of at least 0.83 and root mean squared errors of less than 3.5 days. These predictive models will allow growers to better plan for annual blueberry development and organization around these peak timings. Additionally, these models can help project the shifts of T3p and BO with climate change: as winters and springs warm, it is likely that the annual timing of T3p and BO may come earlier in the growing season.

Simon, J.E. (Rutgers University), O. Schofield, R. Govindasamy, D.K. Seidel, M. Balick, D. Hoffman, C. Pray, M. De Luca, E. Schoolman, L. Brindisi, E. Merchant, M. Robson, Y. Jin, E. Ioanis, E. Joseph, M. Winfred, A. George, C. Yowbalaw, T. Mondale, M. Nakayama, C. Benito, T. Rosen, N. Khanna Climate Resilient Food System Development in the Federated States of Micronesia

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is a vulnerable island nation in the northern Pacific, encompassing 607 islands spread across a million square miles of ocean. It boasts some of the world’s most diverse terrestrial and marine ecosystems, but it faces imminent threats from climate change. Rising sea levels, king tides, shifting rainfall patterns, escalating temperatures, and more frequent and severe storms are jeopardizing local food production. With funding from the Green Climate Fund, researchers from Rutgers SEBS have compiled essential baseline data on FSM farming households examining food production, market challenges, and agricultural goals within the context of a changing climate. Over 70% of FSM households acknowledge that climate change is significantly disrupting their ability to produce food, primarily due to altered weather patterns, including extreme heat, droughts, heavy rainfall, and inclement weather. For those in the outer islands or closer to the ocean, salt inundation, coastal erosion, flooding, and occasional cyclones and storms compound the issues. Over 30% of respondents are considering relocating or ceasing food production due to these climate challenges. In partnership with the Federated States of Micronesia, Rutgers researchers are exploring ways to strengthen their food security in part by significantly increasing local food production.

Sabrina Subhit MPH (Rutgers University), Jennifer Shukiatis MPH, Jeanine Cava MS, Virginia Quick PhD RDN, Amy Rowe PhD, Sara Elnakib PhD New Jersey Leaves No Bite Behind: A Climate Change and Food Waste Curriculum Intervention for Fifth Grade Students

Food waste accounts for 24 percent of all landfill inputs, where it emits methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. In a recent assessment of a variety of climate change mitigation approaches, reducing food waste was the highest impact solution. Schools offer a unique opportunity to reduce food waste generation. Engaging adolescents in education on the impacts of food waste may potentially decrease waste generation. NJ was the first state to require public schools to include climate change education in the K-12 curriculum. With funding from New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Rutgers Cooperative Extension Food Waste Team developed and tested an Environmental Education program centered on food waste reduction targeted towards 5th graders. This program began with six original lessons focused on food systems, food waste, and behavior change. Two NJ schools were used as interventions schools and two as control schools. A variety of pre and post assessments were used to measure the impact and effectiveness of the lessons, including cafeteria food waste audits and written assessments. Pre- and post-assessments revealed significant differences in knowledge, social norms, behavioral intentions, and perceived behavioral control between the control and intervention group. Analysis of data and outcomes resulted in a final nine-lesson unit.

Anisha Tyagi (RWJMS), David Garyantes (RWJMS), David Drobner (RWJMS), Taylor Glassman (RWJMS), Sukrut Sonty (RWJMS), Eric Muller (RWJMS), Julia Marx (RWJMS), Dr. Catherine Chen (RWJ) A Single Institution Study: Integrating Evidence Based Climate Health Curricular Topics

The World Health Organization estimates that climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths annually. The US healthcare system is responsible for 25% of all global healthcare greenhouse gas emissions. Educating medical students on the imminent health risks associated with a warming planet is essential to producing future physicians who will manage these patients’ concerns. Our goal is to assess student awareness of climate health curriculum at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) and to integrate evidence-based interventions across topics such as pathophysiology, social determinants of health, and health systems science.

A needs assessment was conducted prior to developing a climate health curriculum. Two surveys were administered: one to first-year MS, and one to a small subset of fourth-year MS at RWJMS. 30 first-years and 13 fourth-year students responded. An inventory was generated for where specific climate health interventions could be incorporated into the RWJMS preclinical curriculum.

96.7% of first year students were interested in learning about the interaction between climate change and health care sustainability as part of the curriculum. 90% of first year students believed that healthcare professionals have a responsibility to reduce the environmental impact of health systems. 100% of the sampled 4th year RWJMS students reported that the medical school curriculum did not address the relationship between extreme temperature health risks and climate change, the carbon footprint of healthcare, and strategies to have conversations with patients about the health effects of climate change.

Given the implications of climate change on human health, it is essential for current medical students to be educated on the interaction between climate and health. Future physicians must be taught about the impact that the healthcare system has on the environment, and how we can make sustainable choices on both a systems and individual level in order to decrease the burden of climate change on health.

Jordan Warner (Rutgers University), Angela Oberg (Rutgers University), Katie Parrish (Rutgers University) Launching the Rutgers Sustainability Ambassador Program: Developing an Integrative Climate Leadership Model

Given the effects of climate change there is a pressing demand for creative solutions and committed individuals to lead sustainability efforts. The Rutgers Office of Climate Action has launched the Sustainability Ambassador Program, an initiative aimed at equipping students with the expertise, abilities and connections needed to drive sustainability projects and encourage a culture of environmentally conscious practices within the Rutgers community and, beyond.

Feng Ye (Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering, Rutgers University), Joseph Brodie (AKRF Inc), Travis Miles (Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University), Ahmed Aziz Ezzat (Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering, Rutgers University) AIRU-WRF: A Physics-Guided AI-Powered Model for Wind Forecasting in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Areas

Offshore wind is poised to become a pivotal contributor to the U.S. climate change mitigation efforts. Yet, the reliable integration of GW-scale offshore wind projects is contingent on accurate short-term wind forecasts of the wind resource and power. We present the AI-powered Rutgers University Weather Research and Forecasting (AIRU-WRF), an AI-powered model that merges physics-based numerical weather predictions (NWPs) with site-specific observations to provide short-term (minutes to hours ahead) forecasts that are of high resolution, both spatially (site-specific) and temporally (minute-level). Tested on actual measurements from the NY/NJ Bight—in vicinity to multiple large-scale offshore wind project developments—the forecasts made via AIRU-WRF are shown to significantly outperform prevalent benchmarks in the wind forecasting literature and practice.