To explore how the warming environment will affect New York’s communities, ecosystems and economy, Gov. Kathy Hochul named several Cornellians to the state’s Climate Impacts Assessment project. The group will conduct research and then suggest how the state can best prepare for climate change and adapt for the future.
The research effort – announced Nov. 4 – will be led by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) in partnership with many other groups, including the large contingent of Cornell scientists and Cornell Cooperative Extension educators. The assessment is expected to be finished in early 2023.
“Climate change is here, it’s real and no state has felt its impact more than New York,” Hochul said. "From hurricanes like Sandy and Ida, to seven feet of snow in Buffalo, we have seen our weather continue to grow more extreme each year.”
Specifically, the assessment will include:
- Projections of future climate conditions in New York;
- In-depth economic impact assessments; and
- A peer-reviewed technical report on impacts and adaptation strategies.
Art DeGaetano, professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, will serve on the project’s 15-member steering committee, which provides expertise and guidance to NYSERDA. DeGaetano will also serve on the project’s five-member Assessment Design Advisory Group.
“This entire project will summarize and assess the current state of knowledge on the impact of climate change in each of the eight sectors,” DeGaetano said. The eight sectors are: agriculture, buildings, ecosystems, energy, human health and safety, society and economy, transportation and water resources.
“It’s more than a literature review,” DeGaetano said. “This is the state-of-science in eight subject areas and the group will determine how it will impact New York state.”
Cornellians in the groups are:
Agriculture workgroup: Deborah Aller, an agricultural stewardship specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, and Allison Chatrchyan, a senior research associate in the departments of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and Global Development, will serve as co-chairs.
The technical workgroup members include Alejandro Calixto, director of Cornell’s New York State Integrated Pest Management Program; Ariel Ortiz-Bobea, associate professor of applied economics and policy in the Dyson School; and Gregory Peck, associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science Horticulture Section.
Ecosystems workgroup: Garrett Boudinot, research associate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Carrie Brown-Lima, director of Cornell’s New York Invasive Species Research Institute, and a senior extension associate in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment; and Rebecca Shuford ‘94, director of the New York Sea Grant program, a cooperative program between Cornell and Stony Brook University, will serve as a technical workgroup members.
Society and economy workgroup: Luis Aguirre-Torres, director of sustainability for the City of Ithaca, will serve as co-chair. Kenneth Schlather, the recently retired executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, and Mary Austerman, Great Lakes coastal community development specialist, at New York Sea Grant and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Wayne County, will serve as a technical workgroup members.
Water resources workgroup: Stephen Shaw ‘00, M.S. ‘05, Ph.D. ‘08, associate professor at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, will serve as a workgroup co-chair; Abraham Francis ‘14, M.S. ‘19, environmental officer, representing the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne will serve as a technical workgroup member.
This new group complements the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act state law, which sets a path to achieve zero-emission in the electricity sector by 2040, including 70% renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economywide carbon neutrality.
Chatrchyan, DeGaetano, Bobea, Boudinot, Peck and Schlather are fellows in the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability.