Predicting Future Climate Change and its Impacts in New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic: A Collaborative Research Initiative
Project Number 25101 Starting 06/30/2004 Ending 05/31/2009
OBJECTIVES: This multi-disciplinary, collaborative project within CEP has the following objectives: 1. Downscale GCM climate change scenarios to produce accurate simulations of New Jersey and Mid-Atlantic climate; 2. Investigate the anticipated role of future land-use change in this climate change; 3. Build a statewide hydrologic model for New Jersey that can be driven by these downscaled regional climate change scenarios to predict potential changes in water resources; 4. Develop an improved network for monitoring weather and climate in New Jersey; 5. Develop improved capabilities for monitoring air and water quality in New Jersey. APPROACH: Our approach is to blend state-of-the-art regional climate modeling with observations and process models to investigate climate change impacts and achieve the objectives described above. The individual participating researchers bring a diverse set of skills and research expertise to this integrated problem. CEP facilitates the blending of these individual contributions in key areas by providing financial, administrative, and infrastructure resources. In addition, CEP provides a critical mass as well as numerous forums (e.g., internal seminars and research meetings, joint proposal identification and writing efforts, etc.) for sparking the interdisciplinary connections necessary for success. Regional Climate Modeling This activity is the center of the overall CEP effort. In general, the twin problem of accurately modeling regional climate and downscaling global climate change scenarios is a critical emerging issue in the field, with many unresolved scientific and technical questions. As described above, CEP researchers have been working to develop appropriate methodologies for dynamically downscaling global climate change predictions to regional scales, while at the same time improving the representation of key land and atmospheric processes in the RCMs used for this downscaling. These efforts have led to the advances in regional climate modeling and downscaling upon which this current project is predicated. Hydrologic Modeling The improved, high-resolution predictions of future climate in New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic based on our combined regional downscaling of GCM scenarios and consideration of the impacts of future land-use change will themselves be intrinsically extremely valuable. However, in order to go one step beyond to estimate the impacts of these changes on other quantities of interest, e.g., resource availability, agricultural yield, or ecosystem response, we need to link the regional climate modeling with additional process models. Monitoring Climate and Weather in New Jersey The usefulness of these regional modeling and prediction activities can be limited if appropriate observations are not available for model initialization and validation, and for climate and environmental monitoring. Therefore, in this work, CEP will take advantage of its partnership with the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist (ONJSC; see the web site at http://climate.rutgers.edu/stateclim). Our intent is to blend the expertise and observational resources of this office with the expertise and predictions of the modeling team. This is facilitated by the fact that the ONJSC is now physically co-located with CEP, and the State Climatologist, Dr. David Robinson, is now a faculty participant in CEP and a member of CEP's Executive Board. Outreach from the ONJSC is the primary means by which many state residents learn about pressing issues such as droughts and severe winter weather. Therefore, CEP now simultaneously serves as the main clearinghouse for both regional climate change prediction and for weather and climate data and advice for the state.
Greenhouse gases and aerosols to the atmosphere will cause global climate to change significantly in the next century. Local land use changes will also significantly affect the climate of New Jersey. These changes will have large impacts on the activities of the citizens of New Jersey, particularly water resources. We will use data analysis and climate modeling to study how climate change and local land use decisions will affect water resources and citizen's activities in New Jersey and the northeast U.S.