New Jersey Turning Out into “Ground Zero” Brought by the Impact of Climate Change

The State of New Jersey nicknamed the Garden State for its farmland and agriculture bounty, has been picking up a new title brought by state officials and environmental scientists— “ground zero” for climate change.

Global warming is influencing the distribution of plant and animal species in New Jersey, according to a report released by the New Jersey State of the Climate last year–the most recent report provided by Rutgers University Climate Change Resource Center.

The Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist serves as New Jersey’s primary resource for statewide weather and climate.

“Not only is sea level rising, but the rate at which its rising is accelerating,” said James Shope, a research associate at the department of environmental sciences at Rutgers University. He added that an immediate response to climate change in New Jersey would be seen in coastal regions “susceptible to floods,” due to high tides.

The report indicated New Jersey’s annual temperatures have risen by about 4 degrees Fahrenheit, which is roughly “twice the global average and about 1.4 times the global overland average, since 1900.”

He noted that New Jersey’s agriculture sector is integral to the state’s economy, and climate change poses “a threat to this industry.” The planet experienced the sixth-warmest year in 2022, 1.55 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average, as the climate continues to warm up on a global scale.

Drastic changes in temperature and precipitation brought by climate change can affect crop yields, growing seasons, and the prevalence of pests and diseases.

New Jersey has warmed more than twice as much as most of the nation. The rise in sea level not only poses a threat to coastal communities but also exacerbates the risk of storm surges and flooding during extreme weather events, added Shope.

As summer temperatures in the northeastern U.S. increase and summer rainfall remains relatively unchanged, extreme weather is becoming “more pervasive” cited the report 

New Jersey’s extensive coastline makes it particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels, as a direct outcome of the rise in the earth’s climate.

The Jersey Shore, one of the crown jewels of the state, has stood out from its own acclaimed TV Series showing the Garden’s State beaches. But with the impact of climate change, scientists warn of a “permanent inundation,” in the state’s coastal area by the year 2100.

Sea level rise along the Atlantic Coast, including New Jersey, have risen at an “accelerated rate over the past few decades,” according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, an organization tied together by environmentalists and students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sea level rise in New Jersey’s coast is likely to rise 0.5 to 1.1 feet between the year 2000 and 2030 according to climate researchers at the union who study environmental coastal and weather patterns. In addition, the numbers are projected to rise from 0.9 to 2.1 feet of coastal rise between the year 2000 and 2050.

“We need to consider that geography when we consider the geography of climate change,” said Dr. Shope.