September 16, 2019 | 74° F

Rutgers climatologists assist NJ locals with weather consultation

Photo by Yousuf Abdelfatah |

New Jersey state climatologist David Robinson describes the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist as a place for "decision making." Located on Livingston campus, Robinson works to help anyone — from everyday locals to local businesses — with weather and climate concerns.

Located on Livingston campus, the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist is the go-to place for answering or addressing issues related to weather and climate in the state.

David Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist, was appointed to his current position by the dean of the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station in 1991. The office has been part of the University since 1979, and was created by former Gov. Brendan Byrne (D-N.J.), Robinson said.

Robinson described his office as a "place for decision making." The office helps private citizens, businesses and local governments make choices that are either directly or indirectly associated with weather and climate, he said.

“It can be anything from a parent wondering what kind of coat to put on their child in the morning, to private business making choices on infrastructure development (sic),” Robinson said. “It could get up to the political level where we do provide advice when needed to the state legislator and the governor.” 

Robinson said that the credo of state-climate offices around the country is "locals trusting locals."

The goal is to develop a network of communities in the state that understands the needs and struggles New Jerseyans face when combating climate change, he said. By understanding the people of the state on a local level, they can help each other make informed decisions that benefit both the state and its residents.

Robinson said that their position at Rutgers has allowed them to achieve their main goals, to educate and serve the state. Robinson has given lectures at Princeton University, private companies and high schools throughout New Jersey. 

When it comes to research, the state climatology office maintains a real-time weather network of more than 60 stations in New Jersey that record multiple climate variables such as temperature, precipitation and wind every 5 minutes. 

Robinson described New Jersey as a "microcosm," as the state experiences all four seasons throughout the year.

“We have blizzards in the winter, we witness heat waves during the summer, we have devastating coastal storms as we saw with (Hurricane) Sandy, we have floods as we see on the Raritan and other rivers in the state. We really are, for such a small area, a real microcosm of different weather and climate,” Robinson said.

Robinson remains optimistic about New Jersey’s future and hopes to see a positive change in environmental policy soon.  

Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) wants New Jersey to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a program comprised of states in the Northeast created to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cap carbon emissions in the power sector. Former Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) pulled New Jersey out of RGGI in 2011, calling the program "gimmicky" and "not effective," according to NJ Advance Media. Robinson said that rejoining would benefit the state in many ways.

“Anything that can be done to mitigate some of the greenhouse emissions is a no brainer to me. We should embrace it,” Robinson said. “There was a lot of money that would be coming into New Jersey associated with that RGGI effort, but let's not talk about what was lost and instead look forward.”

Robinson said that it is important for students to know that the climatology office is located at Rutgers and that it is an institution that does a great public service to the state. He said that he wishes everyone in New Jersey knew about the office and the work they do daily.

“I would like everyone in the state to be aware, but it's hard to get the attention of 9 million people to let them know what you're doing here. But we are here to ultimately serve the state, as well as the people of New Jersey and help them to achieve a healthier and safer way of living,” he said. 

Jacob Turchi

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