Studies that focus on New Jersey and the Northeast region are vital to understanding the statewide impacts of climate change. This research will help to inform the state’s policies to reduce greenhouse gases, improve resiliency and explore mitigation strategies. Click below to learn about the scientific indicators of Climate Change in New Jersey, statewide greenhouse gas emissions, and regional climate change research.
DEP’s first scientific report on climate change summarizes the current state of knowledge regarding the effects of climate change on New Jersey’s environment to inform state and local decision-makers as they seek to understand and respond to the impacts of climate change. This report identifies and presents the best available science and existing data regarding the current and anticipated environmental effects of climate change globally, nationally, and regionally.
Indicators are observations or calculations used to track specific conditions and trends. Climate Indicators help us understand how our environmental conditions are changing so we can plan for climate impacts.
New Jersey’s climate is changing. During the last century, New Jersey has experienced rising temperatures, increased rainfall, more frequent extreme weather events and rising sea levels. These changes are the result of increasing greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere due to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), agriculture, and land clearing. The indicators discussed below are those specific to New Jersey; and are not representative of all potential indicators of climate change. To learn more about climate change indicators, visit the U.S. Global Change Research Program.
This figure shows the average statewide temperature over the last 120 years, dating back to 1895. It illustrates the upward trend in New Jersey’s temperature. Source: Developed by the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist with data from NOAA - National Centers for Environmental Information.
This figure shows the average statewide precipitation dating back to 1895. It illustrates the upward trend in New Jersey’s annual rainfall. Source: Developed by the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist with data from NOAA - National Centers for Environmental Information.
This map shows the percent change in very heavy precipitation across the United States. Percent increases in the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events is defined as the top 1% of all daily events from 1958 to 2011 for each region. Source: Developed by the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist with data from National Climate Assessment, 2014.
This figure shows the dramatic increase in the frequency of Heavy Precipitation events over the last two decades. Source: Developed by the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist with data from the NOAA National Climatic Data Center.
The images above were captured after Hurricane Sandy (2012) and illustrate the magnitude of damage along the New Jersey Coast. The most destructive element of Sandy was the powerful storm surge. Copyright © 2012, Pictometry International Corp. All rights reserved.
*as of April 6, 2018
This map summarizes the number of times each state has been affected by weather and climate events over the past 30 years that have resulted in more than a billion dollars in damages. New Jersey has sustained 42 extreme weather events since 1980. Across the nation, 2017 ranks as the costliest year on record, with more than $300 billion in cumulative damages. Source: NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters 2018). https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/.
This figure shows the monthly mean sea level and the long term linear sea level trend, including its 95% confidence interval. Source: NOAA Sea Level Rise Trends, 2018. Atlantic City Sea Level records date back to 1911. Learn More
|Table 1. Sea level rise projections for New Jersey. The baseline is year 2000 sea level. 1|
|Year||Central Estimate||Likely Range|
|2050||1.4 ft.||0.9 – 2.1 ft.|
|2.8 ft.||1.7 – 3.9 ft.|
|3.9 ft.||2.3 - 6.3 ft.|
|4.2 ft.||2.4 – 6.3 ft.|
|6.2 ft||3.8 - 10.3 ft.|
1 Million Metric Tons of CO2 is comparable to...
214,133 Cars Driven for 1 Year!
Energy Consumed by 107,980 Homes for 1 year!
CO2 is the reference gas against which other greenhouse gases are measured and therefore has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 1
CO2 equivalents are used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based upon their Global Warming Potential.
For a particular gas, the CO2e is derived by multiplying the tons of gas by its Global Warming Potential.
1 Million Metric Tons of CO2
is approximately equivalent to...
of Methane (CH4)
of Nitrous Oxide (N2O)
of Fluorinated Gases
The emission trends from 1990 to 2018 show significant progress toward achieving the goals of the Global Warming Response Act (GWRA), as depicted in the chart below.
New Jersey’s estimated greenhouse gas emissions by activity over time. “Estimated Total Net Emissions” considers net sequestration (carbon released thru land clearing and sequestered by forests and other land uses). Source: 2018 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory (pdf)
The DEP estimated New Jersey greenhouse gas emissions based primarily on emissions data from DEP’s emissions statement database and fuel consumption data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) as well as other information, including estimated emissions of methane from indirect pipeline losses, and carbon released from land clearing and sequestered through forest growth. For the first time, the 2018 inventory employs the application of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator (MOVES) model to estimate emissions from the on-road gasoline and diesel (distillate) sub-sectors of the Transportation sector. MOVES estimates emissions via vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in New Jersey whereas previous estimates were based on retail fuel sales. Another methodology change was the use of the US Climate Alliance tool to estimate highly warming gases. New Jersey’s estimated greenhouse gas emissions decreased slight from 2015 to 2017, and then held steady through 2018.
All levels remain below the 2020 Global Warming Response Act limit (which is equivalent to the 1990 level). To achieve the 2050 Global Warming Response Act limit (of 80% below the 2006 value), New Jersey would need to reduce its estimated greenhouse gas emissions by 72.9 MMTCO2e between 2018 and 2050. Achievement of the 2050 emissions reduction goal will require a degree of emissions reduction that is far more pronounced than will be necessary to achieve the 2020 limit, although New Jersey’s attainment of the 2020 reduction goal years ahead of schedule attests to the success of efforts thus far.
According to the latest greenhouse gas emissions estimate (2018), Statewide releases were 97 MMT CO2e, with 86% coming from the combustion of fossil fuels to satisfy energy demand (electricity generation, residential, commercial and industrial) and transportation. The category with greatest contribution to greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey since 1990 has been in the on-road transportation sector. This is most likely due to an increase in vehicle miles traveled in New Jersey despite on-going improvements in the fuel efficiency of the overall U.S. motor vehicle fleet. More Resources
World climate scientists agree, the earth’s climate is changing due to human influences. The science linking human activities to climate change is analogous to the science linking smoking to lung and cardiovascular diseases. Over 97% of climate scientists understand that humans are causing climate change. Below is a sampling of US and International scientific experts confirming this consensus, and the need for action to mitigate and adapt to the coming impacts. This is not an exhaustive list, and those with an interest for more information are encouraged to visit the sites provided.
“The scientific evidence is clear: Global Climate Change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society.” AAAS Board Statement on Climate Change (2006) (pdf)
“Global climate change will not reverse itself without serious, sustained leadership from every nation in the world community. Its impacts on human health, world hunger, international conflicts, and macroeconomics will steadily grow unless meaningful action is taken to lessen its profound effects. The United States is a major contributor to worldwide carbon dioxide emissions and today’s announcement is a significant blow to efforts to stem the tide of climate change.” AAG Statement on U.S. Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement (2017)
“Human-induced climate change requires urgent action. Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes”. Human-Induced Climate Change Requires Urgent Action (2013) (pdf)
“It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide.” Climate Change: An Information Statement of the American Meteorological Society (2012)
“The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” Understanding and Responding to Climate Change (2005)
“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen. IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Summary for Policymakers (2014) (pdf)
The U.S. Global Change Research Program is comprised of 14 federal agencies working together to conduct research on global change and the impact posed on society “[t]o build a knowledge base that informs human responses to climate and global change through coordinated and integrated Federal programs of research, education, communication, and decision support.” Global Change Vision, Mission, & Strategic Plan
“The global warming of the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced increases in heat-trapping gases. Human ‘fingerprints’ also have been identified in many other aspects of the climate system, including changes in ocean heat content, precipitation, atmospheric moisture, and Arctic sea ice.” Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States (2009) (pdf)
Climate Change Impacts in the United States (2014)
“Climate change is one of a number of global changes affecting society, the environment, and the economy; others include population growth, land use change, air and water pollution, and rising consumption of resources by growing and wealthier global population”
“Because environmental, cultural, and socioeconomic systems are tightly coupled, climate change impacts can either be amplified or reduced by cultural and socioeconomic decisions.”
“While some climate changes will occur slowly, and relatively gradually, others could be rapid and dramatic, leading to unexpected breaking point in natural and social systems.”
“In the Northeast, communities are affected by heat waves, more extreme precipitation events, and coastal flooding due to sea level rise and storm surge.”
“Coastal Lifelines, such as water supply infrastructure and evacuation routes are increasingly vulnerable to higher sea levels and storm surges, inland flooding and other climate-related changes.”
“The oceans are currently absorbing about a quarter of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere and over 90% of the heat associated with global warming, leading to ocean acidification and the alteration of marine ecosystem.”
Northeast Regional Water, Energy, and Land Use, with Projected Climate Change Impacts.
Source: Melillo, Jerry M., Terese (T.C.) Richmond, and Gary W. Yohe, Eds., 2014: Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment. U.S. Global Change Research Program, 841 pp. doi:10.7930/J0Z31WJ2.
Full Report (pdf)
Climate Change Global Food Security and the U.S. Food System (2015)
“The Potential of climate change to affect global food security is important for food producers and consumers in the United States.”
“Climate change risks extend beyond agricultural production to other elements of global food systems that are critical for food security including the processing, storage, transportation, and consumption of food.”
Executive Summary (pdf)
The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States (2016)
“Climate change is a significant threat to the health of the American people. Rising greenhouse has concentrations result in increases in temperature, changes in precipitation, increases in the frequency and intensity of some extreme weather events, and rising sea levels. These climate change impacts endanger our health by affecting our food and water sources, the air we breathe, the weather we experience, and our interactions with the built and natural environments. As climate continues to change, the risks to human health continue to grow.”
“Conceptual diagram illustrating the exposure pathways by which climate change affects human health. Here, the center boxes list some selected examples of the kinds of changes in climate drivers, exposure, and health outcomes explored in this report. Exposure pathways exist within the context of other factors that positively or negatively influence health outcomes (gray side boxes). Some of the key factors that influence vulnerability for individuals are shown in the right box, and include social determinants of health and behavioral choices. Some key factors that influence vulnerability at larger scales, such as natural and built environments, governance and management, and institutions, are shown in the left box. All of these influencing factors can affect an individual’s or a community’s vulnerability through changes in exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity and may also be affected by climate change.”
“The diagram shows specific examples of how climate change can affect human health, now and in the future. These effects could occur at local, regional, or national scales. The examples listed in the first column are those described in each underlying chapter’s exposure pathway diagram. Moving from left to right along one health impact row, the three middle columns show how climate drivers affect an individual’s or a community’s exposure to a health threat and the resulting change in health outcome. The overall climate impact is summarized in the final gray column. For a more comprehensive look at how climate change affects health, and to see the environmental, institutional, social, and behavioral factors that play an interactive role in determining health outcomes, see the exposure pathway diagrams in chapters 2-8 in the full report.”
“Vector-borne diseases are illnesses that are transmitted by vectors, which include mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. These vectors can carry infective pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and protozoa, which can be transferred from one host to another. The seasonality, distribution are influenced significantly by climate factors, primarily high and low temperature extremes and precipitation patterns. Climate change is likely to have both short and long-term effects on vector borne disease transmission and infection patterns.”
“Maps show the reported cases of Lyme disease in 2001 and 2014 for the areas of the country where Lyme disease is most common (the Northeast and Upper Midwest). Both the distribution and the numbers of cases have increased (see Ch. 5: Vector Borne Diseases). (Figure source: adapted from CDC 2015)”
Mid-Atlantic Coastal Acidification Network
The Mid-Atlantic Coastal Acidification Network (MACAN) seeks to answer basic questions about the intensity, frequency, and location of acidification events.
Montclair State University Clean Energy and Sustainability Analytics Center
“The Clean Energy and Sustainability Analytics Center is a public research and technical assistance center for the State of New Jersey to identify, quantify, and interpret the ramifications for the state of clean energy development and to facilitate energy planning. The Center provides support for clean energy policies, technology, and practices through research and education programs. The Center seeks to develop an approach for clean energy analysis and provide long-term environmental and economic solutions for New Jersey, in order to build a sustainable energy economy.”
Monmouth University Urban Coastal Institute
“UCI and the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium jointly employ a community resilience and climate change adaptation specialist who assists coastal communities in assessing their vulnerability to climate change, learning how sea level rise may impact their waterfront areas, and seeking access to technical expertise, grant funding and more.”
Princeton University Cooperative Institute for Climate Science
“The Cooperative Institute for Climate Science (CICS) is a collaboration between Princeton University and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) to carry out basic research in the climate sciences.”
Princeton University Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment
“The mission of the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment is to develop solutions to ensure our energy and environmental future. To this end, the center supports a vibrant and expanding program of research and teaching in the areas of sustainable energy-technology development, energy efficiency, and environmental protection and remediation. A chief goal of the center is to translate fundamental knowledge into practical solutions that enable sustainable energy production and the protection of the environment and global climate from energy-related anthropogenic change.”
Princeton University Carbon Mitigation Institute
“The mission of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative (CMI) is to lead the way to a compelling and sustainable solution of the carbon and climate change problem.”
Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist Rutgers University
The Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist gathers and archives data on climate conditions in New Jersey, conducts and fosters research concerning the climate of New Jersey and educates and informs the citizens of New Jersey on matters related to climate.“ Examples of basic research range from developing a thunderstorm climatology to investigating past and potential future climate change across New Jersey.”
Rutgers Climate Institute
“The Rutgers Climate Institute is a University-wide effort to address one of the most important issues of our time through research, education and outreach. The Institute draws upon strengths in many departments at Rutgers by facilitating collaboration across a broad range of disciplines in the natural, social and policy sciences.”
Rutgers New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance
“The New Jersey Climate Adaptation Alliance was formed in response to a diverse group of stakeholders who came together on November 29, 2011 at Rutgers University to participate in the conference "Preparing New Jersey for Climate Change: A Workshop for Decision-Makers."
“A changing climate and rising sea levels will have a devastating impact on New Jersey’s economy, the health of our residents, the State’s natural resources, and the extensive infrastructure system that delivers transportation services, energy and clean water to millions of New Jerseyans.”
Rutgers Coastal Climate Risk and Resilience
“C2R2 focuses on four grand challenges that link together physical, ecological, socio-economic and engineered coastal systems:
Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis
Coastal & Marine Projects
Stockton University Coastal Research Center
“Stockton University Coastal Research Center (CRC) originated in 1981 to assist local municipalities with coastal environmental issues related to recurring storm damage and shoreline retreat. Since then the CRC has been working on shoreline monitoring and assessment programs with the State of New Jersey and several municipalities in New Jersey. The CRC has also been a resource for geotechnical data working on numerous projects with Federal, State and municipal governments. With over 20 years of experience the CRC has grown into an exemplary organization known for coastal zone management. The CRC’s continuing mission is to monitor and assess New Jersey’s coastal zone resources.”
Projects: New Jersey Beach Profile Network, Municipal Coastal Management, Delaware Bay Restoration, Environmental Monitoring, GIS Wetland Analysis, Habitat Mapping and several other.