Director's Weekly Reports
The week began with the vernal equinox on Monday. New York City weather did not seem to take notice.
As if to mock Columbia University’s Spring Recess, this week was punctuated by a major snowstorm Tuesday that left more than 7 inches of snow in Central Park, dropped greater totals of frozen precipitation in surrounding areas, and closed the Observatory for a full day.
Yael Kiro learned this week that she is to receive the Prof. Rafi Freund Award from the Israel Geological Society. The award, named for a former professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is given to recognize outstanding papers in the geological sciences published over the past three years. Yael was lauded for two papers published last year and this on the analysis of sediments cored from the floor of the Dead Sea in terms of changes to the hydrology of the area over the last three interglacial periods.
The week began with our annual Awards Recognition Ceremony, a celebration of the awards in research and education received by our colleagues during calendar 2016. The ceremony was held as part of a reception in the Monell Lower Lobby. The honorees included the following:
Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER), NSF, 2016
The 2016 GeoPRISMS Student Prizes for presentations at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting have been announced, and two our students have been honored. Dan Rasmussen received the Best Poster Presentation Prize for his paper on “Run-up to the 1999 sub-plinian eruption of Shishaldin Volcano unveiled using petrologic and seismic approaches,” on which Terry Plank and others were coauthors.
Laura Haynes learned recently that she is to receive a 2017-2018 Schlanger Fellowship from the International Ocean Discovery Program. Named for the late marine geologist and ocean drilling pioneer Seymour (Sy) Schlanger, the fellowship is a “merit-based award for outstanding graduate students to conduct research related to the IODP” (http://usoceandiscovery.org/fellowships/). Laura’s winning proposal was to study what she calls “an enigmatic climate period in Earth's history,” the Mid-Pleistocene Transition (1.2–0.6 Ma).
Long-time members of the Lamont community were saddened by the news that former Lamont engineer and Senior Staff Associate Chuck Hubbard passed away late last week (http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/lohud/obituary.aspx?n=arthur-charles-hubbard-chuck&pid=184017050&fhid=27195). Chuck logged nearly three decades of work on geophysical instrument development and field measurements before his retirement in 1983.
A story in The Washington Post yesterday summarized a recent poll of opinions on human-induced climate change taken by researchers at the University of New Hampshire (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/02/02/survey-only-a-quarter-of-trump-voters-believe-in-human-caused-climate-change/?utm_term=.00c10fc76c16).
On Tuesday morning, with a half-page spread in The New York Times, Columbia University and the G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation announced that Mark Cane and Princeton University’s George Philander are to share the 2017 Vetlesen Prize for their work on the tropical atmosphere-ocean system that led to an understanding of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and its global impacts.
The National Atmospheric Administration and NASA released official reports this week that 2016 saw the highest global average surface temperature on record, making each of the last three years ones that surpassed an earlier record.
The first full workweek of the calendar year saw an unusually wide range of daily high temperatures in Central Park, from 23°F on Monday to 65°F yesterday, the latter breaking a record set in 1890 (http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/01/new-york-city-broke-a-more-...).
Lamont welcomed several new arrivals this month.
For a second week in a row we were treated to two university holidays. As if to compensate, the weather finally turned seasonally appropriate to the first week of the New Year.
I am pleased to report three recent promotions on our scientific staff, all effective as of this week. Bob Newton has been promoted to Senior Research Scientist. Beizhan Yan has been promoted to Lamont Associate Professor, Senior Staff. And Solange Duhamel has been promoted to Lamont Associate Professor, Junior Staff. To Bob, Beizhan, and Solange, congratulations on your new rank!
The first full week of winter led off on Sunday with a blizzard in the Dakotas, a super typhoon hitting the Philippines, and a magnitude 7.6 earthquake off the coast of southern Chile. University holidays on Monday and Tuesday and an early Observatory closure this afternoon cut the workweek nearly in half.
This is one of those ‘tween weeks, sandwiched as it is between the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting and the year-end holidays. For any of you who missed a lecture or key session at that meeting, a close-out message by Denis-Didier Rousseau (https://fromtheprow.agu.org/closing-2017-inspiration-collaboration-agus-49th-annual-fall-meeting/) points you to AGU’s On Demand site.
Many from Lamont have been in San Francisco this week for the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. In addition to a number of news items from the meeting, there are a few items from last week that were not included in the previous Weekly Report.
This week has been both the last full week of fall classes and the last week before many from Lamont fly to San Francisco for the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, some highlights of which are summarized in a Stacy Morford story posted on Wednesday (http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/watch-sessions-agu-largest-gathering-earth-and-space-scientists).
Planetary change was much in the news this week, with stories on topics ranging from the effects of the rapid rates of warming in the Arctic on the indigenous population (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/29/science/alaska-global-warming.html) to a record bleaching and die-off of coral produced by ocean warming along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/worl
A second week in a row was ushered in by a major earthquake. On Monday (our time), a magnitude 6.9 earthquake that struck offshore of the Fukushima Prefecture of Japan (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/world/asia/japan-earthquake.html) was reminiscent of the much larger Tohoku earthquake of 2011 in the same area. This week’s quake produced widespread shaking and a modest (1.4 m) tsunami but no major damage.
Much was heard from the southern hemisphere this week. Sunday morning (our time) was punctuated by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in New Zealand on the complex plate boundary that links the subduction zone along the Hikurangi Trough east of North Island to the transform fault through South Island.