Like an island amid a torrent, the Thanksgiving holiday offers a placid break from the turbulent pace of the fall semester. Both the workweek and this report are correspondingly briefer than normal.
Director's Weekly Reports
Last week’s report began with a look ahead to the climate summit in Paris at the end of the month, written in ignorance of the events of that evening that would push climate change off the front pages as the world focused instead on global terrorism. To the friends and family of the victims of the horrific events in Paris last Friday, as well as the parallel events earlier in Lebanon and Egypt, go our condolences and our steadfast support.
This week was one of heightened anticipation for the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that will begin in Paris at the end of the month.
If the importance of campus issues can be measured by the frequency of staff comments, then the most urgent issue for Lamont has been the poor state of repair of our campus roadways. The highlight of the week must therefore be the substantial completion of the first phase of repaving, including the entrance road, the roads around the Geoscience parking lot, and the road alongside Geoscience, the New Core Laboratory, Guest House 6, and Buildings and Grounds.
The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the entire Lamont Campus was deeply saddened by the news that Missy Pinckert passed away on Tuesday morning. Missy had served as an Administrative Aide in the DEES Administrative Office at Lamont since 1982.
On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that last month had been the hottest September on record. With an unusually strong El Niño adding to the effects of global warming, the year promises to set records as well, as a Justin Gillis story (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/22/science/2015-likely-to-be-hottest-year-ever-recorded.html?_r=0) citing Richard Seager reported that same day.
The week has been notable because of the confluence of several major proposal deadlines at the National Science Foundation within a few days of one another. Lamont scientists have risen to the occasion: 28 proposals have crossed my inbox so far this week.
Among this week’s highlights was the announcement on the Columbia campus yesterday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Vice President Al Gore of several actions by New York State to encourage renewable energy usage and limit greenhouse gas emissions at state and regional scales (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqyfMpKHon4&feature=youtu.be).
The big news nationally this week was that our government did not shut down at the end of the fiscal year (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/01/us/politics/government-shutdown-congress.html?_r=0). With a few hours to spare, Congress approved a continuing resolution that keeps federal agencies open until mid-December.
A week punctuated by the autumnal equinox was an extraordinarily busy one for New York City, with a visit by Pope Francis, the confluence of more than a hundred world leaders, a United National General Assembly session, Climate Week NYC, and the beginning today of the UN Sustainable Development Summit (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/25/world/americas/pope-francis-un-general-assembly.html?_r=0).
There are advantages to being tucked away on a bucolic campus in......
This week was punctuated by the magnitude 8.3 earthquake and associated tsunami in Chile on Wednesday evening. According to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, stringent building codes and the timely evacuation of more than a million residents saved many lives (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/18/world/americas/chile-earthquake-damage.html?_r=0).
For those at Lamont, the week was calm by comparison.
The R/V Langseth arrived at Woods Hole on Sunday, after completing.....
A week shortened by a holiday seemed long nonetheless, perhaps because of the start of classes and a change in weather appropriate to the impending change in season. News of the discovery of a new branch in the family tree of our species hit the front pages (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/11/science/south-africa-fossils-new-species-human-ancestor-homo-naledi.html?_r=0), but stories sharing those pages on the refugee crisis in Europe, the debate on the Iran nuclear deal, and today’s anniversary suggest that our evolution may not have progressed as far as we generally prefer to imagine. News from our campus, at least, has been more positive...
Climate change was much in the news this week, during President Obama’s visit to Alaska and his speech Monday in Anchorage stressing the urgency of the issue and the need for global action (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/01/us/us-makes-urgent-appeal-for-climate-change-action-at-alaska-conference.html). In one of his remarks, the President indirectly quoted Meredith Nettles in a comment on the rate of loss of glacial ice in Alaska and how to visualize most readily a gigaton of ice, as reported Tuesday (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/09/01/obama-just-explained-what-a-gigaton-is-heres-why-thats-a-big-deal/).
As August draws to a close and the onset of the fall semester looms, members of the incoming class of graduate students in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences continue to arrive. A new student orientation next Tuesday in the Comer seminar room will be the kick-off to their studies. The 18 new students, their home Lamont.......
After two weeks away from the Lamont Campus, I find that much has happened in the intervening time.
A feature article remembering Denny Hayes was added to Lamont’s website last week (http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/dennis-e-hayes-mapper-world%E2%80%99s-ocean-beds). Written by Kevin Krajick, the article chronicles Denny’s more than half century of research at Lamont and is filled with stories of his considerable efforts devoted to conducting marine geological and geophysical surveys at sea.
Steve Pica, Chief Engineer on the R/V Langseth, retired this month after devoting 34.......
This week has been as rare as a blue moon, the term sometimes used to describe the second of two occurrences of a full moon within a single month. The blue moon this month was this morning at 10:43 UTC (6:43 EDT). The last blue moon was in 2012, and the next will not be until 2018.
The American Geophysical Union announced this week that Suzanne Carbotte has been named a Fellow (https://eos.org/agu-news/2015-class-of-agu-fellows-announced). AGU’s Fellows are arguably rarer than a blue moon, given that no more than 0.1% of the........
NASA followed last week’s Pluto flyby with an announcement this week of the discovery by the Kepler spacecraft of a super-Earth in an Earth-like orbit around a Sun-like star (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/24/science/space/kepler-data-reveals-what-might-be-best-goldilocks-planet-yet.html?_r=0). The planet (Kepler-452b) is 60% larger in diameter than Earth and has an orbital period of 385 days (but its mass is unknown).
This week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued their State of the Climate for calendar 2014. The year set many records, according to the report, including average surface temperature, average sea surface temperature, and mean sea level (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/07/16/science/ap-us-sci-climate-checkup.html). Suzana Camargo was a contributing author to the NOAA report.
The summer is nearly half over. Whether you measure the season’s midpoint by Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game or the day halfway between Columbia University’s Commencement Day and Labor Day, both metrics give the same answer: next Tuesday. Nonetheless, the pace of scientific progress on our campus showed no evidence of mid-summer doldrums.
On Monday, Stacy Morford joined the Observatory as our new Senior Communications Officer in the office of Development, Communications, and Strategic Initiatives. With degrees in journalism and education, Stacy spent 10 years as a reporter and wire editor for Associated Press in New York City. After editorial posts at Current Events Magazine, InsideClimate News, and Education Week, Stacy served for three years as Senior Online Communications Officer for the World Bank with a portfolio that included sustainable development, climate change, and disaster risk management. Please join me in welcoming Stacy to Lamont!...