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What Are Cooling Degree Days?

Cooling degree days provide a measure to relate the outdoor temperature to the energy demand to cool a building. Primarily applicable during the spring through fall, more cooling degree days means that a building needs to use more energy to adequately cool the interior to comfortable conditions. The number of seasonal cooling degree days has been generally increasing in New Jersey since 1900 and is projected to increase through 2100 with both moderate and high increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Higher emission projections generate more seasonal mean cooling degree days compared to moderate emissions through 2100. This trend will increase the energy demands for cooling, potentially stressing energy generation and utility infrastructure.

About the Data

With this tool, the simulated mean seasonal cooling degree days can be viewed for the whole of New Jersey over historical and future time periods. Note the historical period of 1991-2020 is climate model data and not based solely on observed temperature measurements. The future time periods are simulated using greenhouse gas emissions scenarios RCP 4.5 (moderate emissions) and RCP 8.5 (high emissions). The modeled data have been extracted from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Applied Climate Information System and localized to New Jersey.

Cooling Degree Days (CDD)

Cooling degree days (CDD) are way to quantify the intensity of cooling needs over a period of time, presented above at a seasonal scale. The CDD for a single day are calculated as the mean daily temperature minus 65°F. So, a daily mean temperature of 75°F yields 10 CDD, providing a metric that can be related to energy demand to cool the building back to 65°F. 65°F is used as a basis for the CDD calculation because it is an outdoor temperature generally regarded as comfortable. In this tool, the CDD for each day is totaled across a season, and negative CDD values are not incorporated because CDD are only meant to quantify the time and intensity of outdoor temperatures above 65°F. The winter season in New Jersey does not typically require cooling as mean daily temperatures rarely exceed 65°F.Mean Cooling Degree Days are simulated using a grid over the state. The mean cooling degree days for the selected season are computed at each grid cell. The statewide seasonal mean is calculated by averaging these grid cell values over the whole state. The 10th through 90th percentile range of simulated seasonal CDD values is represented by the light blue shading.

Data Sources
The Applied Climate Information System (ACIS) was developed and is maintained by the NOAA Regional Climate Centers (RCCs). It was designed to manage the complex flow of information from climate data collectors to the end users of climate data information. The main purpose of ACIS is to alleviate the burden of climate information management for people who use climate information to make management decisions.

Climate Scenarios

RCPs or Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) are narrative descriptions about how global greenhouse gas emissions (such as carbon dioxide and methane), air pollutants, and land use may change over the 21st century. These narratives are guided by expert analysis of current emission trends and changes over the next century due to economic and industrial growth, adoption of alternative energy sources (such as wind and solar), and societal shifts. The two RCP scenarios presented here are RCP 4.5 (moderate) and RCP 8.5 (high), which represent an intermediate and high emission scenario, respectively.

RCP 4.5 (moderate)
In RCP 4.5,global greenhouse gas emissions peak near 2035-2040 and are reduced substantially by 2080-2100. This reduction is mainly dependent on changes in energy generation, an increase in energy efficiencies, and a decrease in overall energy usage. Of the energy that is used, the proportion of energy generated from fossil fuels decline and other sources (such as renewables and nuclear energy) increase. By 2100, the global surface temperatures increase by 1.8 (1.1-2.6 likely range) degrees C relative to 1986-2005.

RCP 8.5 (high)
RCP 8.5 assumes continued and expanding greenhouse gas emissions throughout the century without any significant emissions reduction or climate policy. The scenario depicts a rapidly growing global population with slow economic development that results in high energy demand with little progress in energy efficiency and alternative energy sources. To meet this demand, traditional fossil fuel (such as coal) usage increases. By 2100, the global surface temperatures increase by 3.7 (2.6-4.8 likely range) degrees C relative to 1986-2005.

Meet the Climate Corps

Angel Alguera, Rutgers Climate CorpsAngel Alguera
I am a first-year Atmospheric Science master’s degree student in the Department of Environmental Sciences, and my work focuses on meteorology and applications of climate change resiliency. My professional interests include severe weather forecasting and community preparedness regarding weather-related disasters. I work with Dr. James Shope at the NJ Climate Change Resource Center to produce applied research and reports relevant to New Jersey stakeholders. I currently assist with climate change data analysis, large dataset management, and report writing.

Daniel GilkesonDaniel Gilkeson
I’m a second-year master’s student in the City and Regional Planning Program with a concentration in environmental planning. As a planner, I hope to build more resilient communities in the face of increased risk due to climate change. With the Climate Change Resource Center, I am working on a project to aid the state in an update of its floodplain buyout program, known as Blue Acres, to be more proactive and comprehensive. Prior to this position, I interned in the Community and Economic Development Office at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Association. I’m also an AmeriCorps alum, having completed a year of service working on affordable housing in Nashville, Tennessee.

Benjamin GoldbergBenjamin Goldberg
I am a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in climate adaptation and resiliency planning, with experience in sustainable food systems. I joined the Climate Corps last summer to help develop a GIS-based food waste recovery tool, and currently support community resilience through flood vulnerability analysis. I hold a B.A. from Middlebury College and a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture from UC Santa Cruz.

Surya Jacob, Rutgers Climate CorpsSurya Jacob
I am a graduate student in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School concentrating in community development, focused on housing, land and finance, as well as pursuing the Real Estate Development/Redevelopment Certification. Prior to Bloustein, I worked as an architect and interior designer in India and Canada and am pivoting towards a career in urban planning to engage in extensive projects at the macro level. My interests include affordable and mixed income housing, urban redevelopment, and housing finance, and I am deeply passionate about climate resilience in community planning. Being part of Climate Corps is a foundational step towards helping to solve equity issues in vulnerable communities along the coastal region.

Vineesh Das Kodakkandathil, RutgersVineesh Das Kodakkandathil
I am an urban planner with five years of professional experience in community-led ecotourism development and land use and environment management planning in ecologically sensitive areas. I have worked on and conducted extensive environmental sensitivity analyses, flood and landslide vulnerability assessments, and human impact assessments with the help of GIS tools. I’m currently pursuing my master’s in City and Regional Planning at Bloustein School with a concentration in Transport Planning and GIS.

Douglas LeungDouglas Leung
I am working with the Climate Change Resource Center to identify vulnerable communities and places affected by climate-induced flooding in coastal New Jersey municipalities. I am a Master of City and Regional Planning candidate at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. As a planner, I want to develop strategies and solve problems affecting our cities and communities that enable more equitable outcomes in housing and transportation. I am also a recent Army veteran, having served as a company commander of recruiting in the northern suburbs of Chicago and as a reconnaissance platoon leader in the 10th Mountain Division. For fun, I enjoy weightlifting, running, reading fiction, and board games.

Nihar MhatreNihar Mhatre
I am a master’s candidate in city and regional planning at Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, focusing on urban design and land use planning. Before being accepted at Rutgers, I worked as an architect at JD Studio and had my own architectural practice, Vastu Insights. My research interests revolve around designing and developing climate change adaptation and resilience strategies to promote equity in urban landscapes. Having the opportunity to work on real-world projects through Climate Corps will be an essential step in the development of my understanding of addressing climate change issues in vulnerable regions.

Justin MorrisJustin Morris
Justin is a master’s student at Rutgers University studying discovery informatics and data sciences. He is working under Professor Mark Rodgers to develop an optimization model that will act as a decision support tool for university financial investments with the end goal of eliminating Rutgers’ scope 2 emissions. He is excited to apply his background in data analytics and mathematical programming to help the university fight climate change.

Josephine O'GradyJosephine O’Grady
I am a first-year student in the Master of Public Policy program. Through the Coastal Climate Risk and Resilience (C2R2) certification, I am focusing a significant portion of my graduate coursework on topics including coastal geomorphology, environmental justice, and hazard mitigation planning. Before beginning my studies at the Bloustein School, I received my bachelor’s degree in public health from Kean University, where I first became interested in how coastal dynamics shape lived experiences. I previously served as an intern at the New Jersey State Policy Lab and currently work for the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH) team.

Jessica Parineet Jessica Parineet
I am a first-year Master of Public Policy student at the Bloustein School with a strong interest in climate change policy and related topics. In my previous work, I gained experience in a number of dimensions of climate change issues through carbon capture storage research, urban heat island research, and community level engagement as I am currently on the Student Advisory Board for the Rutgers Office of Climate Action. I am excited to expand on my interests in environmental justice and local level resilience planning through my involvement in the Climate Corps.

Dillon Patel Dillan Patel
I am a second-year Master of City and Regional Planning student concentrating in Environmental Planning and International Development. I have previously worked as an economist performing cost-benefit analysis and conducting monitoring and evaluation for renewable energy in developing countries. I have also spent a summer in western Massachusetts mapping stormwater infrastructure and working with planners to identify suitable places for green stormwater infrastructure.

Moira Sweeder, Rutgers Climate CorpsMoira Sweeder
I am a graduate student enrolled in the Master of City and Regional Planning program at the Bloustein School. My concentration is environmental planning with a focus on coastal resilience. Before pursuing my master’s degree at Rutgers, I studied sustainability at Stockton University. During this time, I interned for the PSEG Institute of Sustainability Studies, the Jacques Cousteau National Estuary Research Reserve, and NJ Audubon. I am thrilled to now be a part of the Climate Corps, researching coastal resilience as a part of the Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH) team.

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