Lamont Weekly Report, June 12, 2015

     This week began Monday with World Oceans Day, a day recognized by the United Nations to celebrate the importance of Earth’s oceans. This year’s appropriate theme is “Healthy oceans, healthy planet” (
     Newly published by the American Geophysical Union and John Wiley & Sons is a book on gender equity in Earth science co-edited by Kuheli Dutt and entitled Women in the Geosciences: Practical, Positive Practices toward Parity. The other two editors are Mary Anne Holmes from the University of Nebraska and Suzanne OConnell from Wesleyan University. Kuheli wrote a chapter in the book on “Institutional transformation: The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory experience.” Whether you read only Kuheli’s chapter or the full book, I recommend it to everyone interested in workforce diversity. As the editors argued in the book’s Introduction, “Diversity of the geoscience workforce matters because we need a variety of minds asking a variety of questions and posing a variety of solutions.”
     A new addition to Lamont’s Marine and Large Programs Division is James Spencer, who joined the U.S. Science Support Program (USSSP) for the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). James is a graduate of Columbia's Master of Public Administration Program, where he specialized in Environmental Science and Policy. He has served as a consultant to the New York City Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability and as a Legislative Assistant in District 16 of the New Jersey State Assembly. James will work under Carl Brenner's supervision to coordinate logistical arrangements and contribute to outreach activities for the USSSP office.
     The Biology and Paleo Environment Division this week welcomed Nicole deRoberts as a new Research Staff Assistant in Lamont’s organic geochemistry laboratory. Nicole has a B.S. in natural resources from Cornell University and comes to us from a regional environmental lab.  She will be working under the supervision of Pratigya Polissar and Billy D’Andrea, and she will train and assist researchers in the lab as well as provide general lab oversight and support.
     On Monday evening, I introduced the topic of “Climate and risk – Business and legal perspectives” at an event sponsored by Columbia University’s Office of Alumni and Development as part of their Deciding Factors: Climate Change series. The event, held in the Jerome Greene Performance Space in Manhattan, also featured a discussion by Art Lerner-Lam; Michael Gerrard, Director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law in the Columbia Law School; and Elke Weber, Director of the Center for Research in Environmental Decisions in the Columbia Business School. Jonathan Weiner, the Maxwell M. Geffen Professor of Medical and Scientific Journalism, served as moderator.
     The campus was host on Tuesday to two successful Ph.D. defenses. Meg Reitz defended her thesis, completed under the supervision of Mike Steckler, on "The structural evolution of the Calabrian forearm: A multidisciplinary approach to investigating time-transgressive deformation.” Only one hour later, Usama Anber defended his thesis, conducted under the supervision of Adam Sobel, on "Idealized cloud-resolving modeling for tropical climate Studies." To Drs. Reitz and Anber, congratulations!
     On Wednesday afternoon, Lamont’s Advisory Board met in the Comer Building. The meeting was the first for new Board members Robert Kay and Jane Wells. After reports by the chairs of the Board’s Education, Marketing, Membership, and Risk Committees, the Board heard reports on notable milestones at the Observatory and progress on fundraising over the past quarter. The meeting ended with tours of two of the new laboratories on the first floor of the New Core Laboratory hosted by Andy Juhl and Joaquim Goes and a visit to the flow cytometer facility hosted by Solange Duhamel.
     Also on Wednesday afternoon, the Ocean and Climate Physics Division hosted a farewell party for Laura Lichtblau. After 17 years at Lamont, Laura is taking a position in the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics on the Morningside Campus. Laura’s last day at the Observatory will be next Friday, so please take an opportunity to stop by the Oceanography Building and wish her well in her new position.
     Nicole Davi, Rosanne D’Arrigo, Gordon Jacoby, Ed Cook, Mukund Rao, Caroline Leland, and their coauthors published a paper in the 1 August issue of Quaternary Science Reviews summarizing a record more than 1000 years in length of summer temperatures in Mongolia and Central Asia derived from tree ring reconstructions. The reconstruction resolves the Medieval Climate Anomaly and the Little Ice Age. Importantly, their work shows that warming between 2000 and 2005 exceeded that from any comparable time interval in the study and likely contributed to the extreme drought of 1999-2002 that led to widespread livestock loss in the region. A Kevin Krajick story on the paper ( was posted yesterday on Lamont’s website.
     Also posted to our website yesterday is a story about Christine McCarthy and Brooklyn artist Denise Iris, who is making a film that juxtaposes early Arctic exploration with a future Arctic that is ice-free. Christine invited the artist to her rock mechanics laboratory to view the preparation of samples for her ice deformation measurements, and their exchanges illuminated the complementary perspectives of science and art (
     Several other news stories this week featured the work of Lamont scientists. Park Williams was interviewed on KQED on Monday on changes to summer clouds, coastal fog, and regional climate driven by increased urbanization along California’s coast ( Also on Monday, The Antarctic Sun ran a story on Lamont’s IcePod project of airborne remote sensing of polar ice sheets, with quotes from Robin Bell and Nick Frearson ( And for something a bit different, you can watch Paul Olsen comment on the accuracy with which dinosaurs are represented in children’s toys on a piece aired yesterday by Mashable (
     The local weather feels more like early summer than late spring, but may you all enjoy the sunny weekend nonetheless.