Lamont Weekly Report, May 9, 2014

      This week’s release of the third National Climate Assessment drew widespread media attention, including a Justin Gillis story on the front page of Wednesday’s New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/07/science/earth/climate-change-report.html?_r=0), but the pace of activities at Lamont followed its usual rhythm.
 
     The final Lamont Public Lecture in this spring’s series was given by David Goldberg on Sunday afternoon in Monell. Dave spoke to a large and engaged audience on “Air, water and stone: Lowering CO2 through sequestration.” A video recording of the lecture has been posted on the Lamont web site (http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/events/public-lectures/public-lectures), along with videos of earlier lectures in the series by Bärbel Hönisch and Hugh Ducklow.
 
     On Monday, Amelia Paukert successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis on the topic of "Mineral carbonation in mantle peridotite of the Samail Ophiolite, Oman: Implications for permanent geological carbon dioxide capture and storage." Please join me in congratulating Amelia on her new degree and title.
 
    Also on Monday, Lamont Advisory Board Chair Sarah Johnson met with the faculty of the Earth Institute at Columbia’s Faculty House to talk about private philanthropy. In a wide-ranging discussion lasting more than half an hour, Sarah spoke about her history of engagement with Lamont, its scientists, and its Board, and the need for the Earth Institute and the Observatory to focus on the development of long-term relations as an essential basis for fundraising from private donors.
 
     From Tuesday to Thursday I attended a meeting of the MESSENGER Science Team, held in Maryland at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the lab that led the design and development of the spacecraft and now operates the mission (http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/). MESSENGER is in its final year of orbital operations at Mercury. As a result of the gravitational attraction of the Sun, the altitude at closest approach decreases with each orbit, and the small amount of propellant remaining on board is sufficient for only four more maneuvers to raise that altitude. The mission design team has selected dates for those maneuvers that will enable observational intervals of several days to a week when the closest approach altitude is nearly constant at 15 to 25 km above the surface. So even though the end of the mission is foreseeable, the spacecraft will conduct imaging, remote sensing, and in situ measurements at unprecedented range over its final six months of operational life.
 
     On Thursday evening, Maureen Raymo gave an Earth Institute Distinguished Lecture on the topic of “The rising tide: Sea level rise in a warming world” at the Lotos Club on the Upper East Side. Sarah Johnson provided an introduction to Mo, and Art Lerner-Lam, Bärbel Hönisch, Pete Sobel, and I also attended, along with Gina Ackerman, Steve Cohen, and Casey Supple from EI. Mo had returned only days earlier from last week’s General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna, Austria, where last Thursday she received the Milutin Milankovic Medal from the Union’s Division on Climate: Past, Present & Future. The medal was given to Mo “for her intellectual leadership in palaeoceanography [and] her impressive landmark publications in Cenozoic climate evolution, chronology and astronomical climate forcing” (http://www.egu.eu/awards-medals/milutin-milankovic/2014/maureen-e-raymo/). That same day, she delivered the Milankovic Lecture on “The ocean δ18O record, ice volume, and sea level: Four million years of natural variability.”
 
    The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences announced this week that in the fall they will be welcoming 18 new graduate students who hail from eight different nations. The department received a total of 215 applications and admitted 32 students, so the admission rate was 15%, and the recruitment rate for those admitted was 56%. The graduate program at DEES and Lamont continues to draw many of the top students from around the world.
 
    In the news this week, a paper given by Meredith Nettles at last week’s annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America held in Anchorage, Alaska, was featured on Yahoo News on Sunday (https://news.yahoo.com/watch-seismic-waves-1964-great-alaska-earthquake-roll-131432841.html). Meredith’s reanalysis of seismic wave amplitudes from the great Alaska earthquake of 1964 confirmed that, at moment magnitude 9.4, the event was the second largest earthquake ever recorded. Also on Sunday, the ninth and latest episode of “Cosmos” (http://www.cosmosontv.com/watch/244543555624) on Fox and the National Geographic Channel featured the seafloor mapping work of Marie Tharp and Bruce Heezen.
 
     New to Lamont’s web pages this week is a “photo essay” on the Norwegian Caledonides (http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/photo-essay-norwegian-rocks), along with a brief text by Kim Martineau. The photos are the work of John Templeton, whose thesis research is a geological study of the formation and collapse of this mountain belt and their relation to the collision and extension of neighboring continental blocks.
 
    This coming Sunday will be five months to the day ahead of Lamont’s next Open House, scheduled for Saturday, 11 October. Please circle that date on your calendar. Sammy Gallagher and Jennifer Genrich from the Earth Institute’s event planning team have been meeting with divisional and other groups at Lamont and are working closely with Pete Sobel, Stacey Vassallo, and our development office. We can all anticipate that planning activity for Open House will ramp up over the summer.
 
     Another event to put on your calendar is Ben Holtzman’s earthquake show at the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. “SeismoDome: Sights and Sounds of Earthquakes and Global Seismology” will be staged twice, during a preview on Wednesday evening, 25 June, and again on a date in November still to be set. The show in June is open to the public, but registration is required (http://www.amnh.org/calendar/seismodome-sights-and-sounds-of-earthquakes-and-global-seismology).
 
    This afternoon we will present the 10th annual Excellence in Mentoring Award at a 3:30 pm ceremony in Monell Auditorium. The award has been opened this year to nominations of mentors from the Agriculture and Food Security Center, the Center for International Earth Science Information Network, and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, as well as the Observatory, and all four units are sponsors of this year’s award and ceremony. The eleven nominees this year include Mark Becker from CIESIN, Michela Biasutti, Natalie Boelman, Louise Bolge, Wally Broecker, Pietro Ceccato from IRI, Sidney Hemming, Peter Kelemen, Yochanan Kushnir, Daniel Osgood from IRI, and Gisela Winckler. I hope to see you at the ceremony, and at the reception that will follow.
 
       Sean