Director's Weekly Reports

Lamont Weekly Report, October 4, 2013

At the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, the federal government closed its doors for the first time since 1995-1996. Program managers and other staffers at federal science agencies were barred from their offices, prohibited from travel, and in many cases ordered not to conduct any business by phone or electronic mail. National parks are closed. The ensuing confusion is being watched closely by the administrations of Columbia and Lamont, but the costs to this nation of the inability of Congress to agree even on a simple continuation of government funding will mount sharply....

Lamont Weekly Report, September 27, 2013

Our planet flexed its muscles in Asia this week. From Saturday to Monday, “super typhoon” Usagi wreaked widespread damage in the Philippines, Taiwan, and China. On Tuesday, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake leveled villages in Pakistan. These events reminded us of the societal impact of many of the phenomena we study at Lamont.

 In the category of better news, I am pleased to report that the American Meteorological Society announced this week that Yochanan Kushnir and Richard Seager have been named Fellows of the society. Please join me in congratulating our.....
 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 20, 2013

The autumnal equinox will occur this Sunday, and, more importantly, the end of the federal government’s fiscal year is only 10 days away. The prospects for a government stalemate over the wording in a continuing resolution or lack of agreement on a new debt ceiling renew the sense that following Congress ranks high among this nation’s premier spectator sports, albeit with a fan base substantially smaller than those of most college and professional sport....

Lamont Weekly Report, September 13, 2013

It is a rare week that features a New York City mayoral primary, an anniversary of September 11th, and a Friday the 13th.

The week nonetheless included some good news. I am pleased to report that Keep Rockland Beautiful has named Margie Turrin as the recipient of their Education Award this year (http://www.keeprocklandbeautiful.org/). The organization....
 

Lamont Weekly Report, September 6, 2013

We owe the truncated number of workdays this week to the American labor movement and to President (and former New York Governor) Grover Cleveland. As if in retaliation for the three-day weekend, fall classes at Columbia began on Tuesday morning.

On Thursday, Academic Minute on WAMC Northeast Public Radio featured a discussion by Einat Lev of her research on measuring the physical properties of flowing lava (http://wamc.org/post/dr-einat-lev-columbia-university-understanding-lava). The program airs....
 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 30, 2013

The Columbia campus is awash with students, even as the hallways at Lamont are unusually quiet, as our scientists stretch out fieldwork or grab a few final days off before the beginning of the academic year next week.
 
I am pleased to report that we have three new Lamont Assistant Research Professors:....
 

Lamont Weekly Report, August 23, 2013

This week began with a front-page Justin Gillis article in The New York Times announcing that a pending report of the International Panel on Climate Change finds it “extremely likely” that human activity contributed more than half of the increase in surface temperature over the past 60 years (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/20/science/earth/extremely-likely-that-human-activity-is-driving-climate-change-panel-finds.html?hpw). The carefully worded description of confidence continues to strengthen with each IPCC report...

Lamont Weekly Report, August 16, 2013

August is usually a time of year for fieldwork and vacations, but this week included a target submission date for proposals to the National Science Foundation’s Ocean Sciences Division, so e-mail traffic prompting me to approve proposals by Lamont scientists peaked sharply. The bonus for me was an opportunity to read about some of the most promising....

Lamont Weekly Report, August 2, 2013

When the monthly page on my wall calendar flips to August, the imminence of the new academic year can be clearly felt, much like the air in a subway station presages the approach of a train.

This week I spent the first four workdays in Washington, D.C., chairing a review panel for NASA. The panel was asked to evaluate proposals from multi-institutional teams for membership in a new Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute. The institute aims to stimulate “an innovative, broadly based research program addressing basic and applied scientific questions fundamental to ....

Lamont Weekly Report, July 26, 2013

Today is the anniversary of the 1971 launch of the Apollo 15 mission to the Moon. Apollo 15 was the first of the so-called “J missions,” with a longer duration on the lunar surface than earlier landed missions, the first astronaut-driven rover, and an enhanced focus on science. The Apollo 15 mission included the first measurement of heat flow from the lunar interior. The PI for that experiment was Lamont’s Mark Langseth.

Lamont’s research vessel, named in Mark’s honor, continued this week to explore the three-dimensional seismic structure of the Galicia Rift west of Spain...
 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 19, 2013

Local heat index values above 100 F and half-empty parking lots are hallmarks of the middle of summer. Another sign of the season is this week's All-Star break for major league baseball. For baseball fans, today marks the anniversary of Cy Young's 500th win, Ty Cobb's 4000th hit, and Cal Ripken's 1500th consecutive game.

The R/V Langseth completed all needed engine repairs and sailed from Vigo, Spain, on Monday morning with a crew of 20 and a scientific party of 26. The ship has resumed her.... 

Lamont Weekly Report, July 12, 2013

This week has been punctuated with hot and humid mid-summer weather of the sort for which New York is famous, and the campus is full of college and high-school students immersed in summer research programs. The extra traffic on the Lamont shuttle has led Pat O’Reilly to move the 8:30 am outbound shuttle to 9:30 am and to add an additional bus heading back to the city at 5:30 pm, changes that will be put into effect on Monday.

The R/V Langseth remains in port in Vigo, Spain, and is today awaiting the arrival from----

Lamont Weekly Report, July 5, 2013

The beginning of this week marked the end of my first year at Lamont. The time has passed quickly, and there are still many in the Lamont community whom I would like to know better. In many ways Lamont is like a large oceanographic vessel. Course changes are made only slowly, and even while they are underway the important work of the ship is conducted not on the bridge but rather on the main deck and in the science laboratories. It is the steady pace of progress on that work that validates our mission. I hope that you will continue to keep me posted on the progress on your own work over the coming year...

Lamont Weekly Report, June 28, 2013

This week was notable for President Obama’s address at Georgetown University on Tuesday afternoon devoted in its entirety to the steps his administration will take to address global climate change. After laying out what the New York Times called “sweeping measures” to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, stimulate alternative energy usage, and partner with states and municipalities on climate adaptation strategie....

Lamont Weekly Report, June 21, 2013

The summer solstice was reached early today, and we begin the new season even as the daily duration of sunlight begins slowly to dwindle.

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences announced that Meredith Nettles has been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure, and Terry Plank has been named an Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor. Please join me in congratulating our colleagues on their new positions......

Lamont Weekly Report, June 14, 2013

This week is notable for the $20 billion plans for storm protection for New York City that Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Tuesday (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/12/nyregion/bloomberg-outlines-20-billion-plan-to-protect-city-from-future-storms.html). The plan that forms the basis for the announcement was derived in part from material issued the same day by the New York City Panel on Climate Change, a group that includes Klaus Jacob, Yochanan Kushnir, Cynthia Rosenzweig and....

Lamont Weekly Report, June 7, 2013

This week the campus has been treated to daylong serenades by the abundant local representatives of Brood II cicadas.

 The R/V Langseth sailed from Vigo, Spain, on Saturday. After a half-day of steaming, the scientific party and crew began deploying the seismic streamers, air gun arrays, and other equipment needed to conduct a three-dimensional structural study of the....

Lamont Weekly Report, May 31, 2013

Today is remarkable because near-Earth asteroid 1998 QE2 makes a closest approach to Earth (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/asteroids/news/asteroid20130515.html). About 2.7 km in its long dimension, the asteroid is sufficiently large that we do not wish to witness its impact on our planet. Fortunately, the distance.....

Lamont Weekly Report, May 24, 2013

Commencement Week at Columbia has come to a close. The M.A. Convocation ceremony of the Graduate School of Arts of Sciences on Sunday featured Terry Plank as convocation speaker. Terry spoke on creativity and her days as a graduate student at Lamont, a place of “pastoral splendor” with “forests, wild turkeys, and buildings full of mass spectrometers.”

Also on Sunday, Lamont received a 2013 Rockland Recycles Award from the Rockland County.....

Lamont Weekly Report, May 17, 2013

The week was ushered in by a Justin Gillis story on the front page of Saturday’s New York Times announcing that the average daily level of atmospheric carbon dioxide measured on Mauna Loa had reached 400 parts per million for the first time since the Pliocene (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/11/science/earth/carbon-dioxide-level-passes-long-feared-milestone.html). A quote by Maureen Raymo included in the story underscored the importance of the milestone...