Lamont Weekly Report, November 30, 2012

      The week before the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting is always among the most hectic of the year, and this week has been no exception.

On Tuesday, we held a reception in appreciation of Barbara Charbonnet and her many contributions to Lamont’s development programs. Under Barbara’s leadership, Lamont’s Advisory Board has been strengthened, the Director’s Circle program was inaugurated, and several important fundraising campaigns were completed. It was heartening that many of Barbara’s friends and colleagues were able to attend.
Also on Tuesday, I met with Marsha Wagner and Jennifer McFeely from the Columbia University Ombuds Office. Their office offers confidential assistance with conflict resolution and other personal and personnel concerns. They welcome visitors to their Morningside offices at any time, and they staff an office in Lamont Hall once a month. Their next visit is this Friday, 7 December.
Tuesday’s Science Times featured a half-page article on the work of Kevin Griffin and his colleagues on the study of plant growth in urban environments as a possible window on the future global effects of increasing levels of greenhouse and other gases and increasing atmospheric temperatures. My own involvement in a spacecraft mission took me to Washington, D.C., yesterday for a press conference at NASA on the evidence for ice and organic material in the permanently shadowed interiors of impact craters on Mercury. Media interest was high, and I was happy to see many on the spacecraft team step up to respond to the majority of the requests for interviews.
On Wednesday, Lamont’s Advisory Board met at the Observatory. The Board heard reports on the state of the Observatory, Lamont’s recent progress in private fundraising, and media coverage of Hurricane Sandy involving Lamont scientists. After a tour of the laboratories nearing completion for Lamont’s Center for Biogeoscience, the Board was treated to a scientific presentation by Terry Plank on “Volcanic clocks of volcanic eruptions.”
Today we hosted a three-hour visit by Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In discussions over lunch and into the afternoon, she was briefed on some of the many research and educational activities on the Lamont Campus of direct or potential interest to NOAA. She also offered a variety of perspectives on the challenges of meeting the agency’s broad agenda in research, oceanic and atmospheric monitoring, and service to its user communities in a constrained and increasingly challenging fiscal environment. Between the lines of her comments and her seminar this afternoon was the message that the scientific community has an opportunity to make their voice heard in the offices of decision makers that the research programs of NOAA have a direct benefit to society in the understanding and mitigation of extreme weather events and long-term changes to the oceans and coastal areas and warrant a sustained increase in national investment.
I don’t know how many from Lamont will be at AGU next week, but anecdotal information suggests that the total will approach 200 individuals. For those of you heading to San Francisco, I hope that all of you will be able to attend the reception for Lamont and DEES alumni and staff on Tuesday at 6:30 pm at the San Francisco Marriott Union Square. For additional information, please see In the meantime, I hope that your talk or poster is nearing completion.