Lamont Weekly Report, June 20, 2014

 

    Tomorrow’s summer solstice marks the annual maximum in the daily minutes of sunlight for the northern hemisphere. It seems ironic that the path toward fall and winter begins just as the uptick in air conditioning costs tracks the arrival of summer heat and humidity.

     An article posted online in Nature Geoscience on Sunday by Robin Bell, Kirsty Tinto, Indrani Das, Mike Wolovick, Winnie Chu, Tim Creyts, Nick Frearson, Abdulhakim Abdi, and John Paden from the University of Kansas reports the discovery from ice-penetrating radar of large structures within the Greenland ice sheet interpreted to consist of refrozen basal meltwater. As described in a Kim Martineau press release posted on the Lamont web site (http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/melting-and-refreezing-deep-greenland-ice-speeds-flow-sea-study-says), Bell and her colleagues suggest that these structures, up to 1100 m in vertical extent, mark locations where the refreezing of meltwater and deformation of the basal ice warms the ice column and influences the rate of flow of the ice sheet. Similar structures were reported earlier by Bell and her group beneath ice sheets in Antarctica. The article received considerable attention by the media, including stories in The Christian Science Monitor (http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2014/0617/Astounding-ice-sculptures-locked-beneath-Greenland-s-ice-sheet-video) and Scientific American (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/weird-layer-cake-warps-found-in-greenland-s-ice/).
 
    This week Lamont’s Office of Strategic Initiatives, Development, and External Relations welcomed Modesta "Yvette" Matos-Gooding as Development Associate, the position recently vacated by Kimberley Miner. Yvette worked most recently at Columbia University's Office of University Event Management, and at Lamont she will be managing a variety of events on and off campus to engage new audiences and supporters.
 
    The Geochemistry Division welcomed Tobias Koffman this week as a new Postdoctoral Research Scientist. Tobias recently defended his Ph.D. at the University of Maine, where he worked under the guidance of George Denton on cosmogenic dating of glacial moraines and the last 15,000 years of paleoclimate history in New Zealand. At Lamont, Tobias will work with Joerg Schaefer on the retreat of the Barents Sea ice sheet after the Last Glacial Maximum.
 
    Following successful sea trials on Saturday, the R/V Langseth was inspected by representatives of the American Bureau of Shipping, who signed off on structural modifications to the ballast containment structure in the forepeak ballast tank. The shipyard is completing the necessary modifications, and the engine manufacturer is working to resolve a handful of minor warranty issues that arose during the sea trials. A U.S. Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection is expected on Monday, after which the Langseth will sail to SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx.
 
    Also this week, Andrew Barclay, Carlos Becerril, Ted Koczynski, and Walt Masterson of Lamont's ocean-bottom seismometer laboratory were in Newport, Oregon, preparing to embark on a cruise to recover 30 broadband OBSs deployed as part of the National Science Foundation’s Cascadia Initiative. Co-chief scientists for the cruise are Maya Tolstoy and Richard Allen from the University of California, Berkeley.
 
    On Monday, Art Lerner-Lam, Pete Sobel, Spahr Webb, and I visited Jerry Paros at Paroscientific in Redmond, Washington. Jerry has been a generous supporter of Lamont’s programs in the development of novel instrumentation. In 2005, Jerry gave the Observatory $550,000 to match a comparable gift from Palisades Geophysical Instruments. The income from those two gifts now funds our Observatory Technical and Innovation Center (OTIC) (http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/research/paros-pgi-observatory-technical-innovation-center). In 2007, Jerry gave Lamont a second gift of $1,500,000 toward the endowment of a Lamont Research Professor position in observational geophysics (http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/glaciers-deep-ocean-3-million-endowment-will-advance-scientific-measurements). Discussion topics during the meeting included how Lamont now uses the income from Jerry’s two gifts, as well as the status of collaborative efforts currently underway by Lamont scientists and Paroscientific staff to evaluate the performance of several of the company’s new sensors designed to make precise and stable measurements of pressure, tilt, and seismic waves.
 
    On Wednesday, Lamont hosted a blood drive in honor of our late colleague Gerry Iturrino. A total of 37 individuals donated blood, and another five offered donations but were declined for reasons of travel or health. The number of successful donations was up by 15 from last year. Dominique Young deserves the thanks of the campus for her organization of the event.
 
    This afternoon, starting at 1 pm, there is a meeting of the Lamont scientific staff in the Monell Auditorium. Topics of discussion will include Lamont's operating budget, the status of recent and ongoing searches, the status of Lamont's strategic planning process, and revisions completed this year to the procedures and timelines governing reviews of Lamont research faculty. I hope that most of our scientific staff will be able to attend.
 
                                                                                           Sean