Lamont Weekly Report, March 8, 2013

    In the first week following sequestration of the federal budget, we all await the sound of a second shoe hitting the floor above, but business otherwise proceeds as usual.

    Tiffany Shaw learned this week that she is to receive a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation. The NSF website states that “the…CAREER Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.” Please join me in congratulating Tiffany on this wonderful recognition of her research and educational activities. 

    Lamont’s Strategic Planning Committee met on Monday to distill and discuss the many suggestions for grand strategic challenges, as well as perceived obstacles to progress, submitted by members of the Lamont community during the Town Hall meeting of two weeks ago. A number of common themes are emerging from those suggestions, and the committee is preparing a draft synthesis for circulation to the campus for feedback.
    On Wednesday, several of us received a gracious note from the co-chairs of the Graduate Student Committee – Catherine Pomposi, Logan Brenner, and Sophia Brumer – thanking Lamont and DEES, and particularly Pat O’Reilly and his crew, for preparing the first floor of Guest House 6, also known as the Sutton House, to serve as home to the new student lounge. Our students plan to use the space for study groups, informal discussions, and meetings between teaching assistants and their students. The note was written on the occasion of the first weekly tea in the new lounge.
    On Thursday, I participated by video feed in the Members Meeting of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership (COL). Not unexpectedly, much of the discussion was on budgets for federal science agencies of interest to the ocean science community. Given the sequestration, the time limit on the present continuing resolution that will fall later this month, and the unusually late roll out of the President’s budget for fiscal year 2014, uncertainty in budget forecasts is substantially higher than normal. Given the likelihood of reduced budgets even after Congress passes funding legislation for this fiscal year, COL has developed recommendations to NSF, NOAA, NASA, and the Navy on programs deemed to be of the highest priority to the field. COL leadership is also continuing to urge that members of the community press the importance of ocean science to their legislators. In a lunchtime talk to COL members, Michael Freilich of NASA spoke of his agency’s programs in Earth systems science. To the ocean science community he posed the rhetorical question of how best to balance continuity of standard spaceborne remote sensing observations of the oceans against new types of measurements made with novel instrumentation, given that the agency does not foresee a budget permissive of conducting major programs of both types in the near future.
    Lamont hosted the visits today of Bob Detrick, Assistant Administrator of the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and Rick Rosen, Acting Director of the NOAA Climate Program Office. Bob and Rick delivered a seminar this morning on the accomplishments and future directions of NOAA’s research programs in atmospheric, oceanic, and climate science. This afternoon they are meeting with representatives from IRI and CIESIN and with several sets of Lamont scientists working in a variety of areas of research of general and specific interest to NOAA.
    Next week promises to be interesting from a variety of perspectives. On Tuesday, Lamont’s Advisory Board will meet at the Columbia University Club in Midtown. The board meeting will be followed by a Lamont Director’s Circle event at which Aaron Putnam will speak on “Climate clues from the Silk Road to Shangri La.”
    On Wednesday afternoon next week, members of the team who are implementing and managing the university’s new financial system, Accounting and Reporting at Columbia (ARC), will visit Lamont to make a presentation on preparing financial reports and to answer questions about obtaining accurate financial information from the new system. According to Edie Miller, the visit is in response to “popular demand,” no doubt one of those politically correct euphemisms for remarks about ARC actually heard on campus.
    Also next Wednesday afternoon, the fourth in the Earth Institute’s Sustainable Development Seminar Series will be staged in Low Library. The seminar will be on the topic of “Ch-ch-ch-changes: Recent trends in temperatures, extremes and hydroclimate” and will be given by Richard Seager, Jason Smerdon, and Gavin Schmidt of GISS.
    Adam Sobel will be hosting a workshop to be held at Lamont on Thursday and Friday of next week on the topic of “Severe Convection and Climate.” Experts on severe storms from universities and government laboratories will join with representatives from the risk management and reinsurance industries for what looks to be a lively set of presentations and panel discussions.
    A postscript to that workshop will be next week’s Earth Science Colloquium, to be given by Harold Brooks, head of the Mesoscale Applications Group at the Forecast Research and Development Division of NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory. As homework, I hope that you will join me to hear Gavin Schmidt speak at today’s colloquium on “Using paleo-climate to constrain future projections.”