Lamont Weekly Report, November 1, 2013
This week marked the first anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. There were many media stories on what the storm has taught us to expect from similar events in the future as well as promising directions for mitigation, and Lamont scientists sought out for commentary included Klaus Jacob (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/science/july-dec13/sandy_10-29.html), Art Lerner-Lam (http://billmoyers.com/2013/10/29/lessons-learned-and-unlearned-one-year-after-sandy/), and Dorothy Peteet (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/29/science/natural-allies-for-the-next-sandy.html#p2; see Science Times podcast). Adam Sobel penned an opinion piece on the topic for CNN.com (http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/26/opinion/sobel-superstorm-sandy/index.html?hpt=hp_t4).
Just today I received the sad news that long-time Lamont staffer Patricia Malone passed away this week in Florida. As a Senior Research Staff Assistant, Pat worked in the New Core Laboratory and supervised several types of analysis of marine sediments. Pat’s friends report that her consistently positive attitude was an inspiration to her supervisors, coworkers, and several generations of students. At the time she retired from Lamont in July 2011, Pat had logged more than 25 years of service to the Observatory. We are awaiting further information on a service that will be held in this area and will pass that information on when it is available.
On Monday, Lamont welcomed Marian Mellin as a new Development Associate. Previously with KPMG and Macy's administrative offices, Marian will be providing administrative support for Lamont’s Development and External Relations team. As if to balance the scales, Tuesday also marked the last day at Lamont for Emily Soergel, Senior Program Analyst in Kathy Callahan’s Research Management group. Emily will be taking a position next week at LRN (http://www.lrn.com/), a management consultant company in Midtown.
On Wednesday morning, a large delegation of Earth scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences visited the Earth Institute; and Art, Stephanie Pfirman, and I participated along with others in a discussion with delegation members organized and chaired by Peter Schlosser. Discussion topics included research collaborations between Earth Institute units and Chinese partner organizations; the impact of scientific research findings on national legislation, international agreements, and technological innovation; and new methods for communicating scientific approaches and results to the public.
On Wednesday afternoon, Art, Pete Sobel, and I visited Vetlesen Foundation officers Ambrose Monell and Maurizio Morello. We discussed how the foundation’s most recent grant to Lamont has enabled and enriched a broad sweep of the Observatory’s research programs in Earth’s climate systems and the impact of climate change on the environment. We also discussed opportunities for enhancing public appreciation of Earth science by raising the profile of the Vetlesen Prize.
On Thursday morning, Art, Kuheli Dutt, and I met with Columbia University Provost John Coatsworth and Vice Provost for Academic Planning Andy Davidson to discuss Lamont’s Diversity Plan. Discussion topics included the breadth of campus awareness of diversity issues in recruiting and in the workplace, and our mentoring programs for postdoctoral scientists and junior faculty. The Observatory’s current (2011-2014) Diversity Plan and our progress toward meeting the goals of that plan are viewed as exemplary by the Provost’s Office, but areas that may benefit from additional attention will be explored in the near future.
On Thursday afternoon, Pete Sobel and I met with Sarah Johnson, the new chair of Lamont’s Advisory Board, at her Worldview Entertainment office in Midtown. We held a wide-ranging discussion on the Observatory’s budget, Lamont’s relationship with Columbia, and how future Board meetings might be structured to make best use of the expertise and interests of our Board members.
In the news this week is an article in yesterday’s issue of Science by Brad Linsley, Yair Rosenthal of Rutgers University, and Delia Oppo of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution documenting sediment proxies for the temperature at intermediate water depths in the Pacific Ocean over the past 10,000 years (http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/global-heating-hiding-out-oceans). Their results provide an important long-term baseline for studies of the interplay between warming and cooling of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. Media attention focused in particular on their finding that the Pacific’s intermediate-depth waters have warmed at a much faster rate over the past 60 years than during natural warming periods in the past (http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2013/10/31/global-warming-pacific-ocean/3324251/).
In other news stories this week, Mingfang Ting was quoted in a Climate Science article Saturday on a proposed method for predicting heat waves on timescales of two to three weeks (http://www.climatecentral.org/news/u.s.-heat-waves-may-be-predictable-20-days-in-advance-study-finds-16663). Comments from Steve Chillrud appeared in a story Thursday on WFPL News in Louisville, Kentucky, on the health impacts of automobile emissions in the city (http://wfpl.org/post/what-walks-through-louisville-reveal-about-black-carbon-exposure).
This afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by biological oceanographer Peter Franks, from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Franks will be speaking about the dynamics of marine phytoplankton across fronts, regions of the ocean marked by strong horizontal density gradients. I look forward to seeing you at the lecture.
The shortening minutes of daylight this season will seem more evident this Sunday when daylight saving time comes to an end. May each of you invest your extra hour in some productive endeavor.