This is a story about countless blades of grass, a single tree and a freight train. Combined, the three will make the 2015 United States Open next week at the Chambers Bay Golf Course in Washington State unlike any played in the previous 120 years of the tournament… Fine fescue is a prized jewel in golf, the carpet beneath the feet of golfers near the game’s Scottish birthplace. But it is also a delicate, persnickety tourist that does not happily acclimate to the customs and climate of most other environs. It struggles to grow in most of the United States… “The shallow roots are ideal for a golf course because it means the fine fescue doesn’t need as much water as other grasses do,” said Dr. William Meyer, the director of the Turfgrass Breeding Project at Rutgers University. “It’s something we’ve perfected.”
June is the local strawberry season. And this year at pick-your-own farms in New Jersey, there’s a new berry. It’s taken 10 years to develop, but this variety, the Rutgers Scarlet, is ready… “Growers wanted something with more flavor,” said Bill Hlubik, a professor and agricultural agent for the Rutgers Cooperative Extension, where the berry was propagated.
Even for a world getting used to wild weather, May seems stuck on strange. Torrential downpours in Texas that have whiplashed the region from drought to flooding. A heat wave that has killed more than 1,800 people in India. Record 91-degree readings in Alaska, of all places. A pair of top-of-the-scale typhoons in the Northwest Pacific. And a drought taking hold in the East… “Mother Nature keeps throwing us crazy stuff,” Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis says. “It’s just been one thing after another.”… Francis, Meehl and some other meteorologists say the jet stream is in a rut, not moving nasty weather along. The high-speed, constantly shifting river of air 30,000 feet above Earth normally guides storms around the globe, but sometimes splits and comes back together somewhere else… A stuck jet stream, with a bit of a split, explains the extremes in Texas, India, Alaska and the U.S. East, but not the typhoons, Francis says.
New carbon emissions standards that were proposed last year for coal-fired power plants in the United States would substantially improve human health and prevent more than 3,000 premature deaths per year, according to a new study… The study, led by researchers at Syracuse and Harvard Universities, used modeling to predict the effect on human health of changes to national carbon standards for power plants. The researchers calculated three different outcomes using data from the Census Bureau and detailed maps of the more than 2,400 fossil-fuel power plants across the country… Dr. Leonard Bielory, a researcher at Rutgers University who was not involved in the study, said that it did manage to show that the rule would bring positive health effects, but that the extent was far from clear. “Are these the real numbers you’ll save?” he said. “That’s really a gray zone.”
There aren’t many uncharted areas left on the globe, but “Antarctic Edge: 70 Degrees South” takes viewers to a spot where surveying is so scarce that the destinations may diverge from their locations on a map. Exploring that terrain could mean getting caught in ice for a month, as one scientist in the film recounts experiencing… The movie, a collaboration between marine science and film divisions at Rutgers University, takes a dry, educational-documentary approach to its material. But if talk of sampling krill and phytoplankton populations conjures memories of biology class, “Antarctic Edge” illustrates its points effectively, providing vivid evidence of how shrinking ice at the South Pole affects climates across the globe.
Lord Nelson, the only horse to be penalized in a college football game, died. Rutgers University said Lord Nelson was 42. One of his duties during his 37-year Rutgers career was carrying the university’s Scarlet Knight mascot during football games. A…
A hidden, high-stakes drama is unfolding beneath the surface of the Hudson River. The city’s fragile oyster population is coming out of hibernation. Concealed beneath a thick sheet of ice in winter, they clasped shut and went dormant… Now, ensconced in metal cages that naturalists are using to restore the city’s once-rich oyster beds, they are yawning back open- those that survived, that is… “We have to get out and start pulling up the cages and see how many are living,” says Beth Ravit, an environmental scientist at Rutgers University… Scientists like Dr. Ravit looking to the oysters for their ability to filter out pollutants and possibly to help prevent flooding. But oysters are sensitive. And microscopic morsels like phytoplankton, which oysters find tasty, die off in dark winter waters. That left oysters starved during the colder months, victims of the seasons’ ruthless cycle… “It’s all about who eats who,” Dr. Ravit said… Dr. Ravit and her collaborators from NY/NJ Baykeeper started with 250,000 oysters in Raritan Bay. In the coming weeks, they will find out how many remain.
What is the sky worth? This sounds like a philosophical question, but it might become a more concrete one. A report released last week by the National Research Council called for research into reversing climate change through a process called albedo modification: reflecting sunlight away from earth by, for instance, spraying aerosols into the atmosphere. Such a process could, some say, change the appearance of the sky- and that in turn could affect everything from our physical health to the way we see ourselves… If albedo modification were actually implemented, Alan Robock, a professor of environmental sciences at Rutgers, told Joel Achenbach at The Washington Post: “You’d get whiter skies. People wouldn’t have blue skies anymore.” And, he added, “astronomers wouldn’t be happy, because you’d have a cloud up there permanently. It’d be hard to see the Milky Way anymore.”
It’s time to study and maybe even test the idea of cooling the Earth by injecting sulfur pollution high in the air to reflect the sun’s heat, a first-of-its-kind federal science report said Tuesday. The idea was once considered fringe- to purposely re-…
A fresh analysis of thousands of temperature measurements from deep-diving Argo ocean probes shows (yet again) that Earth is experiencing “unabated planetary warming” when you factor in the vast amount of greenhouse-trapped heat that ends up in the sea… In an email chat, Yair Rosenthal of Rutgers University and Braddock Linsley of Columbia University, whose related work was explored here in 2013, said the Argo analysis appeared to support their view that giant subtropical gyres are the place where heat carried on currents from the tropics descends into the deeper ocean… Rosenthal noted that this heat-banking process could buy humanity time, providing what he has called “a thermal buffer for global climate change,” particularly because the deeper ocean layers are still relatively cool (compared to much of the Holocene period since the end of the last ice age).