This week has led up to Earth Day 2018 this Sunday (https://www.earthday.org/). In recognition of Earth Day, the campus hosted a Charity Yoga Class on Tuesday – with donations collected for the NYC Fresh Air Fund – and Bike-to-Work events from Manhattan and from Nyack and Piermont this morning. All who joined one of the Bike-to-Work groups were treated to a free breakfast in the Lamont Café. Please join me in thanking Andrew Goodwillie and his co-organizers of Earth Day events as well as the staff of the Lamont Café for their participation.
Director's Weekly Reports
This week was made much more difficult by the announcement Tuesday that the National Science Foundation will divest from its ownership of the R/V Marcus Langseth after the end of existing and anticipated commitments to projects requiring the vessel’s special capabilities (https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf18061).
This week the local weather has been as volatile as tweets from the White House, with a high temperature of 61°F in Central Park on Sunday, a second spring snowstorm on Monday morning, and high temperatures in the mid-fifties and widespread morning fog on Wednesday.
The surest sign of the change of seasons this week was the opening of the Major League Baseball season yesterday. Neither the Mets nor the Yankees disappointed local fans.
Last Friday afternoon, Alexandra Bausch successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis on the “Interactive effects of ocean acidification and other environmental drivers on planktonic microorganisms in marine ecosystems.” Her thesis committee included Bob Anderson, Hugh Ducklow, Kevin Griffin, Andy Juhl, and Chris Hayes from the University of Southern Mississippi. Congratulations, Dr. Bausch!
We welcomed spring this week with a vernal equinox early Tuesday afternoon (Eastern Daylight Time). The change in season seemed only a technicality by Wednesday, however, when an early spring storm closed the Lamont campus and left New York City with 5 to 14 inches of new snow (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/22/nyregion/new-york-today-commuting-after-the-storm.html).
This week marked Spring Break from classes at Columbia, and the arrival Monday night of the third nor’easter in 11 days, albeit a storm that did not match the first two in either top wind speeds or snow accumulation levels. The week even included Pi Day (http://www.piday.org/), complete with a dedicated rap number (http://www.piday.org/2009/pi-rap-by-amy-mcconnel/).
This week was punctuated by a winter storm Wednesday that dropped snow unevenly across the region (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/nyregion/winter-storm-snow-transit-power.html) and closed the campus for the day. That we could open our doors at a normal time Thursday morning was the result of long efforts Wednesday afternoon and evening by Andy Reed and eleven of his colleagues from Facilities who plowed and shoveled our roads, pathways, and parking lots.
The Earth itself was once again in the news this week, beginning with unusually warm temperatures in the high Arctic on Saturday, an event that prompted a story on Vox Media (https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/2/27/17053284/arctic-heat-wave-north-pole-climate) quoting Marco Tedesco.
This week brought unusual swings in local weather, beginning with a snowstorm Saturday evening, the breaking of high-temperature records for the date and the month on Wednesday (https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/NYC-Weather-Record-High-Temperatures-Heat-Wave-Winter-Storm-Team-4-474678743.html), and more seasonal weather at the end of the week. Every roller coaster ride comes to an end.
This week began on Sunday with the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (http://www.un.org/en/events/women-and-girls-in-science-day/), a day “to promote the full and equal participation of women and girls in education, training, employment and decision-making processes in the sciences,” according to a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2015.
It has been an unusual week. A magnitude 6.4 earthquake off the Taiwan coast took lives and toppled buildings Tuesday (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/07/world/asia/taiwan-earthquake-search-survivors.html), and one day later a magnitude 2.2 earthquake north of Lamont was felt locally (http://www.news12.com/story/37446950/earthquake-shakes-hudson-valley).
This week brought the good news from the Geological Society of London that Terry Plank is to receive the 2018 Wollaston Medal, the society’s highest honor first awarded in 1831 (https://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=183233&CultureCode=en). Previous recipients of the Wollaston Medal over its long history include Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell, and G. K. Gilbert. Past Wollaston medalists from Lamont include Maurice Ewing (1969), Wally Broecker (1990), and Maureen Raymo (2014).
This week began not just with a shutdown of the federal government, thankfully short lived, but with punctuated commentary from the solid Earth.
This week ends with uncertainty over whether the federal government will still be in operation tomorrow. The House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution last night – the fourth of this fiscal year (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/18/us/politics/government-shutdown-house-vote.html) – and the Senate must pass the bill by midnight tonight to avoid a shutdown.
Fortunately, scientific progress at Lamont continued as though our government is in thoughtful hands.
One week ago, our Facilities staff had just finished shoveling out our campus following a major snowstorm, and we were facing a weekend with record low temperatures for the date. Today, temperatures well above the average high for the date and steady rain are changing the landscape and threatening local flooding (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/nyregion/new-york-today-weather-whiplash.html). This winter season promises to be an interesting one.
Already truncated to three workdays by university holidays, this week was shortened further by weather, when a severe winter storm (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/04/us/winter-snow-bomb-cyclone.html) closed the campus yesterday. That we could open the campus at the usual time this morning is the result of daylong efforts yesterday by Andy Reed and a dozen of his colleagues from Facilities who plowed and shoveled out our roads, pathways, and parking lots.
This Sunday is not only the last day of the calendar year, it is the last day of work at Lamont and Columbia University for Larry Rosen. Larry has logged a total of 38 years of service at Columbia, beginning with 9 years (1970–1979) at Columbia University Medical Center’s Biochemistry Department. For the last 29 years (1988–present), Larry has served the Ocean and Climate Physics Division as Senior Systems Analyst and Programmer.
Winter is no longer coming; it’s here. The winter solstice was marked at 11:28 EST yesterday, and we have begun three months of seasonally appropriate weather. At least the duration of daylight will now increase daily until June.
I am pleased to report that Tim Crone has been promoted to Lamont Associate Research Professor, Senior Staff, effective next month. The Marine Geology and Geophysics Division held an informal party yesterday afternoon to celebrate the milestone. Please join me in congratulating Tim on his new rank!
Many from Lamont have spent much or all of the week at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held in New Orleans this year for the first time.
This week has been both the last full week of fall semester classes and the week before the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The AGU meeting is being be held in New Orleans for the first time, and I hope that all of you planning to attend will be able to drop by the reception for Lamont and Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences alumni, staff, and students next week. The event will be on Tuesday evening at the usual time (6:30-8:30 pm) in the Louisiana Ballroom of the Loews New Orleans Hotel.