Lamont Weekly Report, June 30, 2017

    Today marks not merely the end of a month but the end of the university’s fiscal year. A blizzard of personnel and financial matters should finally clear for a time, permitting the latest professional and scientific milestones to gain appropriate attention.

    The American Geophysical Union announced this week that Lucia Gualtieri is to receive the Keiiti Aki Young Scientist Award from AGU’s Seismology Section ( The honor is given annually to a seismologist who has received a Ph.D. within the three years prior to the year of the award ( Congratulations, Lucia!

    I am pleased to report that Jason Smerdon been promoted to the rank of Lamont Research Professor. Please join me in congratulating Jason on his new position!

    On Friday afternoon last week, Guleed Ali successfully defended his thesis on “Late glacial and deglacial fluctuations of Mono Lake, California,” completed under the supervision of Sid Hemming. In addition to Sid, Guleed’s committee included Nick Christie-Blick, Jerry McManus, Aaron Putnam, and Scott Stine from California State University, East Bay. Kudos to Dr. Ali!

    Also last Friday, Science Advances published a paper by Elizabeth Shoenfelt, Jing Sun, Gisela Winckler, Mike Kaplan, Alejandra Borunda, Cristina Recasens, Ray Sambrotto, Ben Bostick, and colleagues on differences in the availability of iron for marine photosynthetic organisms from airborne dust between glacial and non-glacial sources. The group argued that Patagonia is the source of dust for much of the Southern Ocean, and they showed that glaciogenic and nearby non-glaciogenic dust from the region differ in mineralogy and particularly the oxidation state of the iron. The team conducted a series of laboratory culturing experiments demonstrating that the model diatom P. tricornutum grows more rapidly with the addition of glaciogenic dust than with the addition of dust from non-glacial sources. Their results show that particulate dust rather than only dissolved iron can stimulate phytoplankton growth, but the influence of dust depends of the chemical form of the iron it contains. A story on the paper’s findings by freelance writer Kristen French was posted last Friday on the Lamont web site (

    On Tuesday, the journal Earth’s Future published a paper by Bob Newton and Stephanie Pfirman, along with Bruno Tremblay and Patricia DeRepentigny from McGill University, on the movement of Arctic sea ice in a warming climate and its implications for the transport of ice-rafted contaminants, such as future oil spills, between the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of the eight nations with Arctic coastlines. Between the periods 1988–1999 and 2000–2014, as shown from analyses of satellite images by Bob and his coauthors, the area of sea ice transported between the EEZs of different nations increased while the transit times decreased. These effects are primarily because of a progressive increase in the velocity of sea ice by about 14% per decade. A Kim Martineau story on the paper’s findings was posted Tuesday on the Lamont web site ( and also the university’s home page (  Scientific American carried a story on the paper’s conclusions the next day (

    On Wednesday, Columbia University’s lobbyists, Joel Widder and Meg Thompson of Federal Science Partners, reported that the House Appropriations Committee released the fiscal year 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which funds the Department of Commerce (including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). According to Joel and Meg, NASA is funded at $19.9 billion in the bill, $219 million above the level enacted for 2017. For NOAA, however, the budget is $4.97 billion, $710 million below the 2017 level. The bill funds NSF at $7.3 billion, $133 million below the 2017 level, but Research and Related Activities are funded at the 2017 level of $6 billion. This week’s “mark up” of the House bill is an early step in a lengthy process that will run at least until the fall. It is not too early, however, to let your legislators know your views about the importance of federal investment in science.

    New to Lamont’s web pages this week is another contribution in the Earth Institute video series on What We Do and Why?, this one on Christine McCarthy and her laboratory research program on the physics of friction between moving ice masses and underlying rock and till ( Gwenn Hennon has begun a new blog from the R/V Kilo Moana, now off Hawaii, where she and Matthew Harke are representing Sonya Dyhrman’s group in a study of how mesoscale eddies in the ocean shape the microbial ecosystem of the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre ( There are new links, too, to media stories about Lamont researchers. On Monday, a Chris Mooney story in The Washington Post quoted Marco Tedesco on a report that soot particles from Canadian wildfires could be tracked to the Greenland ice sheet, where they served to increase the absorption of sunlight by the ice, potentially accelerating surface melting ( On Tuesday, WNYC aired a story on the Biking and Breathing project of Steve Chillrud and colleagues at the Mailman School of Public Health to measure the intake of air contaminants by cyclists during daily commutes in New York City (; WNYC is partnering with Columbia in the study. AGU announced on Thursday that their Board of Directors approved an update to a position statement issued jointly with the Seismological Society of America arguing that the scientific capability to monitor a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty should be sustained and expanded; Paul Richards is a member of the panel that drafted the joint statement (

    Whether your weekend will be two days or four days long, may you enjoy the early summer weather.