Director's Weekly Reports

Lamont Weekly Report, April 11, 2014

At midday on Wednesday this week, at one of the picnic tables on the deck outside the Lamont Café, Madeleine Thomson arrived and declared the day to be the start of spring. Madeleine marks the annual milestone, she explained, by switching her regular lunchtime meal from soup to salad. So if the days seem to have turned markedly more clement, and daffodils are now evident on campus, now you know why.
 
On Tuesday, Julius Busecke received the good news from the American Geophysical Union that he has received an Outstanding Student Presentation Award for a paper he gave at the......

 

Lamont Weekly Report, April 4, 2014

The Earth has been much in the news this week. From the front page Justin Gillis article in Monday’s New York Times on the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on likely climate change impacts over the coming decades, to ongoing stories of casualties from last week’s devastating landslide in the state of Washington, to reports of widespread damage yet comparatively few fatalities from the magnitude 8.2 earthquake in Chile on Tuesday, our planet continues to demonstrate the wisdom of continuing the quest to improve our knowledge of Earth’s dynamical processes. ........

 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 28, 2014

It’s the first full week of spring, but the change of seasons has been difficult to discern on the Lamont campus.

Last Friday and Saturday, the Observatory hosted the second annual Seismology Student Workshop, an event run by and designed for graduate students. This year’s participants included 38 students from 12 different universities. The workshop featured 16 talks on a wide range of geophysical topics, from adjoint tomography, to noise minimization on ocean-bottom seismometers, to triggered Andean earthquakes (http://eesc.columbia.edu/student-life/graduate-student-life/graduate-student-symposium2/agenda). The organizing committee – Natalie....
 

Lamont Weekly Report, March 21, 2014

This week has been Spring Recess, with no classes at Columbia and no colloquium at the Observatory. The week has also been one for remembering colleagues recently lost.

A service for Gerry Iturrino was held on Tuesday at Grace Episcopal Church in Nyack. Lamont was well represented in the service and the choir, and many of Gerry’s campus friends were able to attend. An obituary posted that same day on our website (http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/gerry-iturrino-oceanographer-engineer-friend.......

Lamont Weekly Report, March 14, 2014

For a second week in the last three, our campus grieves over the loss of a long-time friend and respected colleague, after Gerry Iturrino suffered a fatal heart attack on Tuesday night. A fixture in the Borehole Research Group, Gerry had worked at the Observatory for 18 years. Our condolences go out to Gerry’s family, even as we remember with fondness his time in the extended family that is Lamont.

    And notwithstanding our collective sense of sudden loss, we continue the pursuit that binds...us together, the search for a deeper understanding of our planet....  

Lamont Weekly Report, March 7, 2014

The week began with what The Weather Channel called winter storm Titan, but to those in the New York area the name seemed oversized. This was also the week when President Obama released his budget for the next federal fiscal year. Although the scientific community is understandably interested in what that budget might foretell for the major science agencies, there are many steps ahead before the details of those budgets will be known.

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences announced the good news this week that Bärbel Hönisch has been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure.....

Lamont Weekly Report, February 28, 2014

It has been a bittersweet week. The campus was shocked and grieved by the tragic news that CIESIN’s Mark Becker, en route to teach a class at Bard College, was killed in a multiple-vehicle accident on the New York State Thruway on Wednesday morning. Our deepest sympathies go out to Mark’s family and friends in mourning for a life of accomplishment and promise abruptly ended in mid-stride. 

Even as we pause to celebrate the lifetime contributions of a colleague, the pace of our science continues. A colorful glimpse of fieldwork planned by Lamont scientists in the yea....

Lamont Weekly Report, February 21, 2014

On winter workdays I often take the 8 am shuttle to Lamont, and if I arrive at 120th Street sufficiently early I buy a cup of coffee from the street vendor and head up to Joe Coffee in the Northwest Corner Building. (I have not learned why the coffeehouse does not begin serving its own coffee until 8 am.) Larry Rosen is usually there ahead of me and, if so, can be found reading his morning copy of The New York Times. On seeing me arrive on Monday, Larry put down his paper and announced, “This is a two-Seager Monday.” Richard was quoted at two....

Lamont Weekly Report, February 14, 2014

For yet another week, Lamont was closed by a snowstorm. And once again, Lamont’s snow removal crew worked around the clock, this week from Wednesday night to this morning, to make it possible to reopen the campus today. Our thanks are due once more to Lenny Sullivan and his crew of Bruce Baez, Tom Burke, Carmine Caviliere, Bob Daly, Tony DeLoatch, Joe Giebelhouse, Kelley Jones, Mike McHugh, Glenn Pforte, Ray Slavin, Eric Soto, Kevin Sullivan, and Rick Trubiroha. We all owe these colleagues an accumulating debt of gratitude....

Lamont Weekly Report, February 7, 2014

This week has been unusually weather challenged, with major snowstorms on Monday and Wednesday and the possibility of additional snow showers this weekend. White is the new green.

The R/V Langseth departed Newport, Rhode Island, on Tuesday and headed to Charleston, South Carolina, for long-planned shipyard work. The work will include painting of the hull and main deck, pulling tail shafts, replacing shaft seals, and performing other repairs to rudders, steering gear, and propellers. The first phase of planned winch upgrades will be completed with the installation of a new hydrographic winch and new winch booth, and other structura......
 

Lamont Weekly Report, January 31, 2014

For a second week in a row, we owe a shared debt of gratitude to key staff members for responding to a campus emergency. On Saturday afternoon, the campus lost power, a switch to an emergency generator failed, and the campus computer network lost connectivity. Lenny Sullivan and a Buildings and Grounds crew that included Mike McHugh, Bruce Baez, Ray Slavin, and Kevin Sullivan restored power in little more than an hour and returned on Sunday to work on the transfer switch with technicians from the manufacturer. Mahdad Parsi and.....

Lamont Weekly Report, January 24, 2014

Lamont’s campus has been draped in white since Tuesday afternoon and evening, when a major snowstorm left up to 10 inches of snow in Rockland County. That we were able to open and operate normally on Wednesday morning was the result of nightlong efforts by members of Lamont’s Buildings & Grounds and Traffic Departments. Please join me in thanking Bruce Baez, Tom Burke, Carmine Cavaliere, Tony DeLoatch, Glenn Forte, Joe Giebelhouse, Charles Jones, Kelly Jones, Mike McHugh, Ray Slavin, Eric Soto, Kevin Sullivan, Lenny Sullivan, and Rick Trubiroha for their extraordinary efforts to ensure that scientific activities could proceed apace after the storm. Pat O’Reilly told me that this week marked the third time this winter that....

Lamont Weekly Report, January 17, 2014

This week has been one of new milestones and transitions.

On Thursday, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that Columbia and Lamont alumnus Peter Molnar is to receive the Crafoord Prize in Geosciences for 2014. Peter, a Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, was selected “for his ground-breaking contribution to the understanding of global tectonics, in particular the deformation of continents and the structure and evolution of mountain ranges, as well as the impact of tectonic processes on ocean-atmosphere circulation and climate.......

Lamont Weekly Report, January 10, 2014

The arrival of January means that you can gaze at an image of Peter deMenocal for a full month, at least if you have a copy of the Climate Models calendar as I do (http://www.weather.com/news/science/environment/climate-scientists-pose-pinup-calendar-20140102).

The lion that shares the calendar image with Peter may symbolize the weather we’ve experienced so far this month. The first major snowstorm of the year shut down Lamont (and an issue of this report) last Friday, and this week was ushered in by a substantial southward....

Lamont Weekly Report, December 27, 2013

The last full week of the year came gift-wrapped with two weekends, and many from the Lamont community took advantage of the holidays to spend time with families and friends.

Another late-year gift was the announcement by the American Geophysical Union at the end of last week that three of our graduate students received Outstanding Student Paper Awards for their presentations at the AGU Fall Meeting earlier this month. Sloan Coats, Celia Eddy, and Zach Eilon received awards in the categories of Global Environmental Change..... 
 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 20, 2013

It’s been a transitional week: catch-up after the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting for researchers, final exams for students, and a schedule in which late-calendar deadlines were blended with holiday celebrations for all.

The week began, however, with the sad news that Lamont alumna Inés Cifuentes passed away on Monday after a long battle with cancer. The first woman to earn a Ph.D. in seismology at Lamont (1988), Inés spent much of her career working in science education and on behalf of programs to attract women and minorities to the sciences. She won the 200....
 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 13, 2013

This week was spent off campus for the many from Lamont who joined more than 22,000 others at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

The week was launched on Saturday and Sunday with a meeting of the Marcus Langseth Scientific Oversight Committee, chaired by Dale Sawyer of Rice University. The first afternoon featured an extended introduction to the Langseth and its capabilities for early-career scientists. The business portion of the meeting on Sunday morning included reports from.....
 

Lamont Weekly Report, December 6, 2013

The globalization of solar system exploration was again in evidence this week. On Sunday, China launched Chang’e-3, a soft lander that will deliver a rover to the surface of the Moon later this month (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/02/world/asia/china-prepares-to-launch-moon-rover-mission.html?_r=0). That same day, India’s Mangalyaan spacecraft, launched last month into a parking orbit about Earth, completed a propulsive maneuver that sent it onto a planetary transfer trajectory to Mars (http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2013/1202/India-s-Mars-mission-leaves-Earth-s-orbit-surpasses-Chinese-ambitions). Chang’e-3 was propulsively inserted into lunar orbit today. The sea of space is becoming increasingly crowded with ships... 

Lamont Weekly Report, November 27, 2013

This week provides us with a reason to appreciate all that is special about Lamont: the shared sense of scientific mission, the pervasive intellectual excitement, and the consistently collegial tenor of our interactions. 

The passing of a former colleague, even one whose Lamont affiliation was decades past, gives us another occasion for appreciation. We learned this week of the death of Lois Ongley.....

Lamont Weekly Report, November 22, 2013

Fifty years ago today, at lunchtime, I was walking to the student houses on my campus after a sophomore physics lecture when my TA from Geology 1, his face wreathed in pain, gave me the news of the day. He was searching for his students to tell them that our afternoon lab had been cancelled. That moment, and millions like it, marked the beginning of the decline in....