By Wednesday of this week, we were no sooner back to a normal shuttle schedule and nearly full electrical service, the latter thanks in large part to the crews sent to assist our region by Georgia Light and Power, when we were welcomed by the first snow of the season. Dubbed winter storm Athena by The Weather Channel, the nor’easter delivered a coat of white to the campus and added insult to those still struggling to recover from the injuries of hurricane Sandy. Locally, our Building and Grounds crew once again rose to the challenge and put in extra hours to clear roads and pathways into the evening and the next morning.
This week we took a major step forward in our strategic planning efforts for the Observatory and the campus with the naming of a Lamont Strategic Planning Committee, to be co-chaired by Robin Bell and Maureen Raymo. The overarching charge to the committee is to identify, by the end of the spring semester, the most promising scientific directions for future research at the Observatory. I have asked the committee to frame the strategic plan in a manner that will help to guide us, over the next several years, in the recruitment of postdoctoral scientists and Lamont Research Professors as well as our investments in facilities, laboratories, information technology, and infrastructure. There are ten additional members of the committee, two from each research division and a healthy mix of senior, mid-career, and early-career scientists:
Bob Anderson Geochemistry
Conny Class Geochemistry
Tim Crone Marine Geology and Geophysics
Jim Gaherty Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics
Andy Juhl Biology and Paleo Environment
Neil Pederson Biology and Paleo Environment
Heather Savage Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics
Richard Seager Ocean and Climate Physics
Tiffany Shaw Ocean and Climate Physics
Donna Shillington Marine Geology and Geophysics
The existing and developing plans prepared by the individual divisions and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences will provide essential input, and the committee expects to engage, through one or more all-hands meetings or retreats, the entire Lamont community in the strategic planning process. In the meantime, please pass your best ideas to one of the committee co-chairs or members.
Many individuals at Lamont deserve the thanks of the community for their responsiveness, during and following the arrival of hurricane Sandy last week, to inquiries from the local, national, and international media on the issues of severe storms, coastal inundation, and the effects on both phenomena of global changes in climate and sea level. Klaus Jacob (e.g., http://www.theworld.org/2012/10/hurricane-sandy-rising-sea-levels/) and Adam Sobel (e.g., http://www.npr.org/2012/10/31/164046039/high-def-storm-models-yielded-accurate-predictions) were particularly visible across the media, but also active in public outreach during the week were Roger N. Anderson (e.g., http://www.npr.org/2012/11/02/164101929/fixing-nycs-underground-power-grid-is-no-easy-task) and John Mutter (e.g., http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/politics/2012/11/6538894/32-fatalities-hurricane-sandy-new-york-city-and-still-counting?--bucket-headline). Other stories on lessons from Sandy can be found on this page on the LDEO website: http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/science-and-lessons-hurricane-sandy.
On Wednesday, the National Science Foundation announced that Roger Wakimoto will be the new assistant director for the Geosciences Directorate. Wakimoto will be leaving his current position as director at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in February. He holds a 1981 Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and he served on the faculty of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at UCLA for more than 20 years before moving to NCAR. (See http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=126005.)
Several events in the coming week are worthy of mention. On Monday, 12 November, Lamont and the Earth Institute will host a panel discussion on the “Warming Arctic, Changing Planet.” The event, to be held in the rotunda of Low Library from 5 to 7 pm, will include Natalie Boelman, Kevin Griffin, and Stephanie Pfirman as panelists, among others. On Thursday evening, 15 November, Kerry Emanuel, a Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT and an expert on hurricanes, will be speaking in Morningside to the New York City/Long Island chapter of the American Meteorological Society on “Assessing storm surge risk at New York City.” Kerry will also be giving the LDEO Earth Science Colloquium on Friday, 16 November. Also on Friday, Wendy Miller from Columbia’s Benefits Office will give a morning presentation in the Monell Auditorium on “What's New for Officers for 2013,” and a Benefits representative will be in the Monell Lobby between 11 am and 1:30 pm to answer questions and to assist employees seeking assistance with on-line benefits enrollment.
If you are just a bit weary of wind, rain, and snow, please join me at this afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium, where our own Tim Creyts will talk about ice.