New Jersey Faces Serious Climate Change Risks, Experts Warn

Sea level rise and increased flood risk are just a few of the impacts of global climate change expected in New Jersey. Credit: jerseygal2009/flickr.

A couple weeks ago I wrote about a new report describing the projected impacts of global climate change on New York State. A quick refresher: more heat waves and more intense rainfall are expected to affect everything from agriculture to water and energy resources, and potentially even major parts of the state’s transportation infrastructure.

Of course, New York isn’t the only state that will experience the impacts of the changing climate. They aren’t the only one now examining their vulnerabilities, either. Officials in neighboring New Jersey are beginning to assess the state’s climate-related risks as well.

At a workshop held at Rutgers University earlier this week, local climate change experts and policy makers discussed not only how the climate may change over the next several decades, but also what the economic, environmental and health consequences could be.

Climate scientists predict that New Jersey, like other Northeast states, will see more hot days (think: summers in which long stretches of 100-degree-plus heat will be the norm) that may harm crops and raise electricity demand. On top of that, heavier rains and higher coastal water levels caused by sea level rise are going to make damaging floods much more likely throughout the state. In a year in which flooding has already cost the Garden State dearly, news of more frequent serious floods isn’t encouraging.

Experts at the workshop pointed out that the effects of global warming have already begun to manifest in New Jersey, as they have in many parts of the country. New Jersey Newsroom reports that, according to Columbia University professor Kim Knowlton:

 In some of these impacts, New Jersey has been ahead of other places in feeling the effects [of climate change].

In particular, sea level rise along much of the New Jersey coastline has been among the highest in the country. The rapid changes in coastline are the result of a combination of higher waters (caused by warmer global temperatures) and slow sinking of the land in some areas.

Over the next century, researchers predict that areas around Atlantic City and Long Beach Island could see over 15 inches of sea level rise by 2050, greatly increasing the potential for flooding during coastal storms and hurricanes.

For more stories on how climate change impacts the Garden State and what people are doing to prepare, check out our New Jersey States of Change page.