It has been another holiday-shortened week, one in which temperatures in the New York City area returned to seasonal levels after the record-setting highs of last week. A CNN blog by Adam Sobel (http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/25/opinions/sobel-warm-december/), posted on Christmas Day, explained that the high December temperatures in the eastern U.S. were likely the combined product of perturbations to the northern hemisphere jet stream by current El Niño conditions, global atmospheric warming, and natural variability in the weather system.
Several from Lamont are working in the field over the holidays. Jeff Bowman’s blog from the Palmer Long Term Ecological Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula (http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/research/blogs/chasing-microbes-antartica) indicates that, after describing the characteristics of a late-spring plankton bloom, his field season ended last week. His plans called for him to spend Christmas in the Drake Passage on his way home.
Frankie Pavia writes in his blog entry today that the FS Sonne sailed from Antofagasta, Chile, after a delayed start, and he and Sebastian Vivancos completed their first of several stations to collect water and sediment samples for isotopic analysis (http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/research/blogs/sampling-barren-sea). The two are part of an international team studying the chemistry and biology of the waters of the South Pacific Gyre, one of the most nutrient-poor areas in the world’s oceans.
The R/V Langseth has been en route, too, this week from the Mediterranean to a port stop in the Cape Verde Islands. The ship’s next cruise, to begin next month, is a multi-channel seismic and ocean-bottom seismometer experiment led by Bobby Reece of Texas A&M University to image the structure of the oceanic crust from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to 70-million-year-old seafloor to address questions on the off-axis evolution of the crust and the stability of spreading center segments over timescales of tens of millions of years.
Deepti Singh penned a News and Views piece published this week in the January issue of Nature Climate Change on the decrease since 1950 in the precipitation associated with the South Asian summer monsoon. New work indicates that changes in land use and increased emissions from human activities have contributed to this decrease.
Columbia University’s news highlights for December (http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=cc26d8788ee7d6f98dd0af14e&id=2e28d11a3d&e=5fba060d8b), distributed yesterday, led off with a story on the university’s leadership in climate research. Links were included to articles on the current El Niño, the inauguration of the Center for Climate and Life, and the exceptionally long seagoing career of Carlos Gutierrez spent on Lamont’s research vessels.
A short article in Scientific American this week features a two-hour video of one of the Earth Institute’s seminar series in sustainable development, chaired by Lex van Geen and focused on the topic of water management for agriculture. Arsenic contamination of groundwater poses a major challenge to the sustainable development of water for drinking and agriculture in several regions, most notably in India and Bangladesh (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/arsenic-contaminates-india-s-drinking-water-video/).
The end of the annual calendar this week calls forth the tradition of New Year’s resolutions. Updated versions of the resolutions of the past several years are still appropriate for the Observatory for 2016:
• To continue the recruitment of the most outstanding candidates for Lamont Research Professor and Lamont postdoctoral fellow positions to work among us as colleagues, particularly in those areas of scientific research identified as most promising in Lamont’s Strategic Plan.
• To continue to ensure that our younger scientists are encouraged and guided in their professional growth and are provided support for their best research ideas and timely occasions for promotion.
• To continue to provide opportunities for creativity and advancement for our technical and administrative staff.
• To continue to maintain and enhance the instrumentation, technical support, laboratory and office space, and infrastructure needed for the Observatory to pursue its research and educational missions.
• To continue to strengthen Lamont’s efforts in development, communication, and education designed to enhance the Observatory’s profile and strengthen our ability to raise the resources needed for our programs and operations.
May the coming year again be marked by important breakthroughs in our science, new programmatic accomplishments, regular improvements to our facilities, and an intellectually vital campus sustained by collegiality and mutual respect and support.