Lamont Weekly Report, January 8, 2016

     The first weekly report of the new calendar year provides a good opportunity to mention several recent arrivals to the campus.

     Marco Tedesco joined the Observatory late last month as our newest Lamont Research Professor. An expert in polar processes, Marco had most recently been an Associate Professor and founding Director of the Cryosphere Processes Laboratory in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at The City College of New York. He earlier held a research appointment at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. From 2013 until last year, he also served as Program Director for a new Cyberinfrastructure Program in the Division of Polar Programs at the National Science Foundation. Marco’s research focuses on the evolution of snow and ice, the formation and draining of glacial lakes, and their effect on the near-surface mass balance of glaciers and ice sheets. He combines active and passive microwave observations, airborne and satellite remote sensing, and in situ measurements to determine snow depth and the timing of melting and refreezing. He is unusual among workers in cryospheric science for his broad combination of observational scales, his integration of measurements with regional climate and ice sheet models, and his organization of field expeditions to both Greenland and Antarctica to conduct his work.

     Members of the Marine Geology and Geophysics Division are pleased that Linette Sandoval-Rzepka has, in just five weeks, ably taken over their Division Administrator reins. Linette earned a BA degree from the University of Scranton and a Master of Public Administration degree from Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, and she’s been a certified research administrator (CRA) since 2010. Linette began her research administration career at Columbia’s Sponsored Projects Administration as a project officer reviewing and submitting proposals on behalf of eight departments. She later held grants management positions at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New York University School of Medicine, Columbia University's Medical Center, and most recently Stevens Institute of Technology.

     The Geochemistry Division welcomed two individuals just this week. Megan Newcombe is a new Lamont Postdoctoral Fellow. She arrived with a fresh Ph.D. from Caltech, where she worked with Ed Stolper, Paul Asimow, and John Eiler on chemical zonation in olivine-hosted melt inclusions, diffusivity and solubility of water in lunar basaltic melts, and the petrogenesis of alkaline rocks on Mars. At Lamont, Megan will be working with Terry Plank on the application of diffusive “clocks” to determine the ascent rate of magmas beneath Aleutian volcanoes with a variety of eruptive styles.

     Yihua Cai began a two-month visit as an Adjunct Research Scientist. An Associate Professor in the College of Ocean and Earth Sciences at Xiamen University, Yihua is visiting Bob Anderson’s laboratory to complete chemical analyses of isotopic tracers in sediments from the South China Sea.

     The Ocean and Climate Physics Division celebrated the arrival, also this week, of two new Postdoctoral Research Scientists. Naftali Cohen, who received a Ph.D. in applied mathematics in 2014 from the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, joins us from a Postdoctoral Associate position at Yale. At Lamont he will work with Richard Seager and Isla Simpson, now at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, on the role of stratosphere-troposphere coupling in extratropical climate variability and greenhouse gas-driven circulation and hydroclimate change. 

     Joining OCP as a new NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellow is Nathan Steiger. Nathan arrives from the University of Washington, where he received his Ph.D. last month from the Department of Atmospheric Sciences under the supervision of David Battisti, Greg Hakim, Gerard Roe, and Eric Steig. An expert on the application of reanalysis methods to paleoclimate reconstructions, Nathan will be working at Lamont with Jason Smerdon and colleagues on a project entitled “Reconstructing pre-industrial climate change and crop yields over the past millennium.”

     The flux of postdoctoral scientists is not entirely of one sign. Kim Popendorf will leave Lamont next week after a productive three years in Solange Duhamel’s lab. She will be taking a new position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Ocean Sciences at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Miami ( One doesn’t have to work on the microbial contributions to marine biogeochemical cycles to know that January is a great time to move from New York to Miami. Bon voyage, Kim!

     The R/V Langseth left the Cape Verde Islands on Tuesday to the South Atlantic to begin an expedition to image the seismic structure of the oceanic crust from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to 70-million-year-old seafloor. The goal of the cruise, led by Gail Christeson from the University of Texas at Austin and Bobby Reece from Texas A&M University, is to gain an improved understanding of the off-axis evolution of oceanic crust and the stability of spreading center segments over timescales of tens of millions of years.

     Lamont’s web site gained a new David Funkhouser story yesterday on the Marine Geoscience Data System (, an archive of marine bathymetry and other data sets managed as part of the Interdisciplinary Earth Data Alliance community-based data facility hosted at Lamont. The Marine Geoscience Data System (  includes a number of interactive tools that allow a user to navigate the ocean floor, select data types, and zoom in on features of particular interest.

     Several Lamont scientists have been in the news this week. Richard Seager was quoted in a Masahble story ( Tuesday about the large swings in northern hemisphere weather patterns between December and January and possible teleconnections between storm patterns in the Pacific and North Atlantic during El Niño events. Won-Young Kim and Paul Richards reported in stories on CNBC ( and other media that the seismic characteristics of the nuclear test announced by North Korea on Wednesday were not those of a hydrogen bomb, as claimed, but the device tested was either similar to those tested earlier by that nation or the test of a new device that largely failed. Kyle Frischkorn and Logan Brenner coauthored a piece for Vox Media’s Eater on the impact of El Niño’s winter rainstorms on winemaking in California and interviewed Park Williams for the story (

     Two events next week are worthy of early mention. On Monday, our Human Resources Office has arranged for a set of seminar-style presentations in Monell Auditorium on Columbia University’s retirement process. The first session, beginning at 10 am and designed for Officers of Research and of Administration, will feature presentations by Lynn Ball, Senior Benefit Specialist; Pearl Spiro, Associate Provost for Academic Appointments; and Doug Chalmers, Director of the Office of Faculty Retirement. A second session, beginning at noon and designed for support staff employees, will feature a presentation by Lynn Ball. Even if you’re not the retiring type, you’re bound to learn something useful if you attend.

     Later in the week, on Thursday evening, Ben Holtzman will present SeismoDome III, an encore performance of his sound and light show on earthquakes and seismic wave propagation at the Hayden Planetarium in the American Museum of Natural History. Ben writes, “SeismoDome III will be different (and better) for several reasons: The planetarium screen and projectors were replaced so the images are now much brighter and crisper. We have re-done one kind of movie for the new screen. We have also developed a new kind of movie: listening to the ambient noise in the solid Earth generated by ocean waves. The amplitude spectrum changes with storm intensity, so you experience a year of weather in two minutes, as filtered through the Earth, seen and heard from inside the planet!” The museum web page states that the show has “sold out,” but we can hope that Ben’s Lamont colleagues were among those who acted quickly.

     Whether you’ve only just arrived at Lamont or are contemplating retirement, whether you spend your days worrying about earthquakes and explosions or this year’s grape harvest in Napa, whether you’re more at home in the field or in front of your computer screen, welcome to 2016.