Lamont Weekly Report, September 21, 2012

    This week was marked by recognition, outreach, and service. 

    I am pleased to report that Sean Higgins, Director of Lamont’s Office of Marine Operations, has been promoted to Senior Research Scientist. The promotion recognizes Sean’s outstanding record at managing the resources and personnel in support of the operations of the R/V Langseth on behalf of both Lamont and the broader marine science community. 
    For those of you interested in learning more about communicating effectively with the news media, the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Earth Institute are hosting a media training workshop on the morning of Monday, 1 October.The workshop, to be held on the Morningside campus, will be run by members of the communications staff of the Earth Institute and Lamont and will feature Lamont alumna Brenda Ekwurzel of the Union of Concerned Scientists. If you are interested in participating in the workshop, please contact David Funkhouser at the Earth Institute or sign up online at
    As if to underscore this invitation, in Tuesday’s Science Times Jim Davis concisely answered the question, submitted by a reader, of how melting ice might affect the tilt and rotation of the Earth. This question had been relayed by Kevin Krajick and Kim Martineau more than a week earlier from C. Clairborne Ray, the Science Q&A columnist at the Times. The referral, and Jim’s answer, provided a nice illustration of how Lamont can be seen by journalists as a source of objective expertise on the workings of our planet.
    On Thursday, Arctic sea ice filled the news, sprinkled with abundant commentary from scientists at Lamont and the Earth Institute. The National Snow and Ice Center released a report earlier in the week that Arctic sea ice cover on 16 September had reached not only the low point for this calendar year but also the lowest level on record. On Wednesday, Peter Schlosser, Stephanie Pfirman, Benjamin Orlove from IRI, and Anne Siders from the Center for Climate Change Law spoke on this topic at one of EI’s Sustainable Development Seminars. A separate panel discussion in New York City sponsored by Greenpeace held that day on the same topic featured remarks by Jim Hansen of GISS.
    Another type of outreach, beyond that to the media, is to the friends and alumni of Lamont. On Wednesday Art Lerner-Lam and I met with Greg Mountain, the President-Elect of Lamont’s Alumni Board, and with Stacey Vassallo, who leads alumni relations activities in Lamont’s Development Office. One of the clearest messages from that meeting was that many of our alumni, and Columbia alumni more generally, would enjoy hearing about current research from members of Lamont’s scientific staff. Please consider giving a talk to an alumni group in the course of your future travels. Stacey would be delighted to arrange the scheduling of such an event if you alert her in advance of your trip.
    Most of us received an e-mail reminder this week to vote in the biennial elections of the American Geophysical Union. A glance at AGU’s election site ( yields the heartening message that Lamont is exceptionally well represented among those standing for election to leadership positions: Jim Davis for a seat on AGU’s Board of Directors, Robin Bell for President-Elect of the Cryosphere Sciences Focus Group, Kerstin Lehnert for President-Elect of the Earth and Space Science Informatics Focus Group, and Jason Smerdon for Secretary of the Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology Focus Group. I hope that you will join me in supporting our colleagues in these elections, which will remain open through 4 October. The election-day phrase I recall from my time in the Boston area comes to mind: Vote early, vote often.