Lamont Weekly Report, October 21, 2016

     It was an unusual week for local weather. Whether the term Indian summer was applicable (, temperature records for the date had been set in New York and other northeastern cities by midweek, but markedly cooler and windier conditions were forecast for the weekend.

     Monday’s close of business was a proposal deadline at the National Science Foundation closely watched by many at the Observatory. I signed off on 17 proposals submitted in advance of that deadline by Principal Investigators from four of Lamont’s six research divisions. Unfortunately, many of those proposals were not sent to our Office of Contracts and Grants sufficiently far in advance of the deadline to be reviewed by our sponsored projects staff, and eight proposals had to be submitted without review. Such review provides a critical check of compliance with an increasingly long list of agency requirements and is in the best interest of both the project investigators and the Observatory. Please take cognizance in the future that your proposal will likely be one among several that target any given deadline, and please ensure that there is sufficient time ahead of submission that your proposal can be given every opportunity for success by our seasoned sponsored projects staff.

     The Geochemistry Division this week welcomed Postdoctoral Research Fellow Julie Schindlbeck. A postdoctoral scientist at the GEOMAR-Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Julie is a volcanologist and geochemist who works on connections between arc volcanism and climate as recorded in subaerial and submarine pyroclastic deposits. Julie is visiting Lamont on a Fulbright Fellowship until early February. Her host at the Observatory is Susanne Straub.

     On Monday, Lamont’s Annual Report for fiscal year 2016 was shared electronically with a broad audience. The report features stories from each of the Observatory’s strategic initiatives as well as on our educational programs, a summary of major honors garnered by Lamont scientists last year, and an overview of the year’s financial activities and donors. A pdf version of the report can be downloaded from our home page’s In the Spotlight section.

     On Wednesday, the October issue of Lamont’s newsletter ( was mailed out to a similarly broad distribution. The issue includes links to five recent articles on Lamont research; five stories on Lamont scientists and staff; five media articles on Lamont science; our Annual Report; and stories on Lamont’s Open House and crowdfunding activities. The Open House story includes a video by Columbia’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs that is worth a few minutes of your time. The crowdfunding story includes a link to a video on Lamont’s participation in Columbia Giving Day on October 26 narrated by Donna Shillington (

     At midday on Wednesday, the Geochemistry Division hosted a luncheon in the Comer Café to celebrate the recent transition to retired status by Bill Smethie and Dave Walker, each after careers at Lamont that have already spanned more than three decades. Steve Goldstein emceed an informal ceremony that began with the ceremonial uncorking of champagne bottles; featured remarks about Bill and Dave by Peter Schlosser and Peter Kelemen, respectively; and ended with a toast to both retirees. Thanks to all who participated, and particularly to Arlene Suriani and her colleagues for arranging for the food and drink.

     Later that day, Adam Sobel was a panelist in a discussion in the Low Library Rotunda on Lessons of Climate Resilience in New York City. The evening event was sponsored by the Earth Institute and the MPA Program in Environmental Science and Policy and was moderated by Steve Cohen. Other panelists included George Deodatis from the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics; Kate Orff from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; and Curtis Cravens from the New York City Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency.

     There is a new film on the work of Mike Steckler and Nano Seeber on the potential for large earthquakes in Bangladesh that has been posted on our web site along with a Kevin Krajick story ( The movie was made by filmmakers Douglas Prose and Diane LaMacchia with support from the National Science Foundation.

     Marco Tedesco was quoted in a long article in next week’s issue of The New Yorker, posted online Monday (, on melting of the Greenland ice sheet. The same day, Pacific Standard posted a comparably long story on the work of Mike Kaplan, Aaron Putnam, and Joerg Schaefer on possible causes for the end of the last ice age ( Peter Kelemen was interviewed by a student journalist for an article Monday in the Columbia Spectator (  On Tuesday, Eos ran the citation for Heather Savage’s 2016 American Geophysical Union Mineral and Rock Physics Early Career Award ( On Wednesday, Popular Science named CarbFix – the pilot project in subsurface carbon storage at an Icelandic power plant in which Juerg Matter, Martin Stute, and Wally Broecker are involved – as among the 11 greatest engineering innovations of 2016 ( Kerstin Lehnert was quoted in an Alexandra Witze story in yesterday’s issue of Nature on the response of the leadership of the EarthCube geoinformatics program to a critical panel review earlier this year ( And Robin Bell was quoted in a Chris Mooney story yesterday in The Washington Post on the announcement by the National Science Foundation and the British Natural Environment Research Council of a major joint research program to study the Thwaites Glacier, thought to hold important clues to the future of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet ( Not a bad week for Lamont in the media.

     This afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by Holly Michael, a hydrogeologist and Associate Professor of Geology in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment ( Holly will be speaking on “Land-sea water exchange from ripples to shelves: Implications for coastal ecosystems and ocean chemistry.” I hope to see you there.