Lamont Weekly Report, April 8, 2016

     Late last week, the Observatory was saddened by the news that a member of the Lamont extended family had passed away. Michael Vitelli, who worked as a Systems Analyst for Columbia University for nearly 10 years, first on the Morningside Campus and then at Lamont, died at the age of 52 on March 30 in Nyack after a long illness ( A celebration of Michael's life will be held next week, on April 14 at 7 pm, at the Nyack Center, 58 Depew Avenue.

     Even as we took time, once again, to remember a departed colleague, the scientific activities on our campus continued at the usual springtime pace.

     On Monday, the Marine Geology and Geophysics Division welcomed marine seismologist Satish Singh, who will be spending six weeks at Lamont as a Visiting Senior Research Scientist. Satish is a Professor Class Exceptional at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, and he also holds a Visiting Professor position at the Earth Observatory of Singapore. He’s a Laureate of the French Ministry of Research in Scientific Research and Creation, a Laureate of the Agence Nationale de Reserche Chaire Industrielle, and a recipient of the Grand Prix from the French Academy of Sciences.

     On Tuesday, Lamont hosted a media event to announce a new philanthropic arm of the World Surf League (WSL), known as WSL PURE, where PURE stands for Progressive Understanding and Respect for the Environment. The WSL manages all major surfing events world wide, its membership is deeply interested in the future health of the oceans, and WSL PURE has given $1.5M of first-year funding for ocean research at Lamont's Center for Climate and Life. WSL PURE has also launched an initiative with Columbia’s School of Professional Studies to offer courses in ocean science at a variety of educational levels. At the announcement event, I was joined by Peter deMenocal, WSL CEO Paul Speaker, and Jason Wingard and Greg Muth from the School of Professional Studies. A Stacy Morford story on the new partnership posted Tuesday on Lamont’s website ( is accompanied by a WSL-produced video with excerpts from interviews with Ryan Abernathey, Hugh Ducklow, Sonya Dyhrman, Bärbel Hönisch, Mo Raymo, Richard Seager, and Bruce Shaw.

     On Wednesday, I was visited by Yong-Guan Zhu, Director General of and Professor of Environmental Biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’s Institute of Urban Environment in Xiamen City. Dr. Zhu, a guest of Beizhan Yan, was visiting Lamont to explore the possibility of future cooperative programs between his institute and the Observatory.

     The R/V Langseth continued its transit this week from the Cape Verde Islands to a shipyard in Jacksonville, Florida, where the ship is scheduled to arrive next week for a variety of maintenance tasks.

     In the news this week, Adam Sobel was quoted in a Justin Gillis article Saturday in The New York Times ( on the difference between climate and weather. The work of Marco Tedesco was mentioned in a Washington Post story Tuesday on the rate of melting of ice in Greenland and its contribution to global sea level rise ( The April issue of The Record, the newspaper of Columbia’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs, includes a story on Wade McGillis, his work monitoring the Hudson River from the Piermont Pier, and the Earth Institute’s Center for Rivers and Estuaries that he leads (

     This afternoon, in place of the Earth Science Colloquium, will be this year’s Diversity Lecture. Delivering the lecture will be Ashanti Johnson, a chemical oceanographer from the University of Texas at Arlington (  Ashanti is an Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Assistant Vice Provost for Faculty Recruitment at UT Arlington and also the Executive Director of the Institute for Broadening Participation (   Her lecture, on “Engaging under represented minorities in the geosciences,” will be at 3 pm. So shake off the rut of the usual Friday schedule and come to Monell 30 minutes earlier than normal. I hope to see you there.