Dr. Jennifer S. Walker presents research on NJ rising sea levels

According to Dr. Jennifer S. Walker, it is time to focus on local ways to improve rising sea levels.- Graphic / Drew Peltzman

On Friday, Jan. 27, in Discover Hall Room 227, Rowan professors came together to learn about research done by Jennifer S. Walker, who has a doctorate in oceanography, on rising sea levels and climate change.

Walker was the main spokesperson of this talk and is currently employed as a visiting professor at Bryn Mawr College and at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Walker opened the talk with a slideshow titled, “The importance of past sea levels for modern climate change,” and began with her three main points of this presentation — reconstructing the Common Era Relative sea level, sea level budgets in the Atlantic Coast and her future research.

Demonstrated in her presentation, there were lots of visuals and graphs from her research that show the rising global sea level. Walker explained that in the state of New Jersey, the sea level is rising faster than most states, a concerning truth for New Jersey residents. Her research has an abundance of information describing how she uses proxies, a figure used to display values, of certain regions experiencing the most increases in sea level. 

“You know, broadly, people have been thinking about global sea level change, but when we are thinking about moving into the future with climate change, we need to be thinking about how those adaptations measure on more regional to local scales as well,” Walker said. “It’s the importance of having those site-specific reconstructions where we can get those regional and local driving processes through time.”

Walker’s research is part of understanding how our homes and lives could one day be at stake. Many of Rowan’s professors in the departments of geology and environmental sciences do what they can to educate Rowan students about this relevant information. Department of Environmental Science assistant professor Dr. Andra Garner discussed her impact here at Rowan. 

“My work focuses on understanding how climate change impacts coastal hazards, such as hurricanes and sea-level rise. My expertise in these areas has allowed me to represent Rowan on state-wide [New Jersey Science and Technical Advisory Panel on Sea-level Rise and Changing Coastal Storms] and even international [Asian Development Bank] scientific advisory panels. My work also relates a great deal to some of the challenges we face here in Southern New Jersey, such as rising sea levels and hurricane impacts,” Garner explained. 

Many of these professors also do their best in making sure their students get experience in the research they dive into as well. Professor Gerald Rustic described how Rowan students can learn more about their environment and elements that also include sea level rise.

“The Geology Department we have a course on Earth in Transition, which is one of the classes that teaches sea level rise. There are also classes on the global climate crisis, which environmental science teaches. The School of Earth and Environment has lots of classes that discuss these things. If students are interested they can also look at the climate CUGS [certificate of graduate study] that we have, it’s a CUGS in global climate change that has classes in both geology and environmental sciences,” Professor Rustic said.

There are lots of classes and programs that students can take no matter their major in order to learn more about the state the climate is in. For more information on what the Geology of the Environmental Science Department offers, visit Rowan’s School of Earth and Environment website.

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