Lamont Weekly Report, May 24, 2013

     Commencement Week at Columbia has come to a close. The M.A. Convocation ceremony of the Graduate School of Arts of Sciences on Sunday featured Terry Plank as convocation speaker. Terry spoke on creativity and her days as a graduate student at Lamont, a place of “pastoral splendor” with “forests, wild turkeys, and buildings full of mass spectrometers.”

     Also on Sunday, Lamont received a 2013 Rockland Recycles Award from the Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority ( The award is part of the WasteWise Program sponsored by the EPA. The Lamont campus generated approximately 200 tons of solid waste during calendar year 2012, and our recycling rate during that period was 47.4%. The Observatory’s Facilities Department is to be congratulated for their oversight of the waste management and recycling programs for the campus.

     Monday saw a campus soccer tournament. An impressive total of 45 Lamonters fielded eight teams, who faced each other in single-elimination playoff format for 12-minute games. The tournament trophy, a mounted soccer cleat painted gold, went to a team from SGT consisting of Rafael Almeida, Zach Eilon, Jim Gaherty, Lars Ottemöller, Mahdad Parsi, and Meg Reitz. Please join me in congratulating the winning team and in thanking all of the tournament’s participants and supporters for what may become an annual tradition.

     On Tuesday through Thursday, the Cooperative Institute for Climate Applications and Research at Lamont hosted a two-and-a-half-day Abrupt Climate Change in a Warming World (ACCWW) Symposium on “Climate Change: Recent Discoveries and Future Challenges” ( The symposium was sponsored by the Climate Program Office in NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. The program was a mix of formal talks and lively discussion sessions, and the participants included a broad spectrum of international and local experts.

     On Wednesday we received the good news that Alexandra Bausch has been awarded a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship for the coming academic year. Alexandra is based in the Geochemistry Division and is jointly advised by Bod Anderson and Joachim Goes. Her proposed research project, entitled “Assessing the causes for the rise in abundance and seasonal productivity of the green mixotrophic dinoflagellate Noctiluca in the Arabian Sea ecosystem,” was one of 56 awards made in response to 330 applications.

     This morning, Art Lerner-Lam, Kathy Callahan, and I met with Bob Chen and Marc Levy from CIESIN, Lisa Goddard and Haresh Bhojwani from IRI, Pedro Sanchez and Cheryl Palm from the Center for Agriculture and Food Security, and Steve Cohen, Carol Pooser, and Courtney Small from the Earth Institute’s central administration to discuss opportunities for greater integration of scientific projects, fundraising, and external relations across the four EI units on the Lamont Campus. We agreed that selecting a few grand themes for greater coordination of efforts should be the next step in the continuation of such discussions.

     In the news this week, Maureen Raymo has a reprise on her comment on the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide to a level above 400 parts per million in the latest (27 May) issue of The New Yorker. Adam Sobel was quoted on the steadily improving ability of atmospheric circulation models to predict severe weather in a story Wednesday tied to the tornado that devastated several communities in Oklahoma earlier this week (

     A highlight of next week will be the party on Friday afternoon to celebrate the contributions to Lamont of Ginny Beck, Dake Chen, and Doug Shearer as the three of them look forward to retirement. Ginny, Dake, and Doug have collectively devoted more than 90 years to the intellectual life of the Observatory, so the event promises to be memorable.

     In the meantime, we can all look forward to a long weekend as we begin to take notice of the early arrivers from the brood of 17-year cicadas about to join us in abundance (