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.
Director's Weekly Reports
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.
If U.S. Presidential elections could be assigned earthquake magnitudes, this week’s election was at least a 9.5. Media articles are beginning to address the question of how federal support for scientific research may fare under a Trump administration, and Robin Bell was quoted in one such story (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/11/09/what-will-president-trump-mean-for-science/) on Wednesday.
This was the last full week before the end of an extraordinarily vitriolic and polarizing Presidential campaign season. Fortunately, the news about our planet’s future has given greater grounds for hope. Late last week, 24 nations and the European Union agreed to create the largest marine reserve in the world in and near the Ross Sea, off the coast of Antarctica (http://www.nature.com/news/world-s-largest-marine-reserve-hailed-as-diplomatic-breakthrough-1.20900).
The Lamont community was saddened by the death this past weekend of University of Maine glaciologist Gordon Hamilton, whose snowmobile fell into a crevasse in an ice sheet shear zone during fieldwork in Antarctica. A Justin Gillis story in the Science Times section of The New York Times on Tuesday captured Gordon, his work, and its importance for climate science (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/25/science/gordon-hamilton.html?_r=0).
It was an unusual week for local weather. Whether the term Indian summer was applicable (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/18/nyregion/new-york-today-indian-summer.html), 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.
Kicking off this week was Lamont’s Open House on Saturday. The skies were overcast, but the light rain held off for most of the day, and the many students, neighbors, and friends of the Observatory who joined us contributed to a final attendance figure of 2998, more than 200 higher than two years ago. In the tents and in our buildings, visitors experienced hands-on science, toured laboratories and exhibits, and enjoyed a diverse menu of talks and presentations.
As this week closes, Hurricane Matthew is centered just off Florida’s eastern coast and is advancing northward, following its devastating trajectory across St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the Bahamas. Even at Lamont, the storm affected the schedule of research. Joaquim Goes was to have participated on a NOAA oceanographic expedition slated to depart Wednesday from Charleston, South Carolina, but he wrote that the sailing time had been postponed at least until the weather cleared and the scientific party had been sent inland.
On Sunday, Jeff Weissel relayed the sad news that former Adjunct Senior Research Scientist and long-time Lamont Senior Staff member Bob Stoll passed away on September 17 (http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/northjersey/obituary.aspx?pid=181596325).
This week has been Climate Week NYC (http://www.climateweeknyc.org/), designed by the organizers to bring “together influential global figures - and new voices - from the worlds of business, government and society who are leading the low carbon transition” and provide “the collaborative space for climate events in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement.” Columbia University hosted an International Conference on Sustainable Development on Wednesday and Thursday, IRI cosponsored an event Wednesday on In
Yesterday, President Obama designated the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean (https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/15/fact-sheet-president-obama-continue-global-leadership-combatting-climate).
Late this morning, a note from Enrico Bonatti brought the sad news that Dee Breger passed away yesterday. With a degree in studio art from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Dee joined Lamont in 1964 as a scientific illustrator. She quickly gained expertise in electron microscopy, and for 22 years she managed Lamont’s scanning electron microscope and X-ray microanalysis facility. She also participated in more than 30 field expeditions, most at sea.