News aggregator

Recommendation Letters Reflect Gender Bias - Science

Featured News - Mon, 10/03/2016 - 13:35
Female geoscientists applying for selective fellowships were less likely than their male counterparts to be described in glowing leadership-oriented terms such as “brilliant” or “trailblazer,” according to a new study from Lamont's Kuheli Dutt.

Women Postdocs Less Likely than Men to Get Glowing References - Nature

Featured News - Mon, 10/03/2016 - 13:32
Women and men applying for geoscience postdocs receive very different letters of support from their mentors, a new study from Lamont's Kuheli Dutt shows.

Women in Geoscience Get Worse Recommendation Letters than Men - The Verge

Featured News - Mon, 10/03/2016 - 13:29
All around the world, women studying geoscience are half as likely as men to receive outstanding letters of recommendation rather than merely good recommendations, new research led by Lamont's Kuheli Dutt shows. This is true no matter what region they come from.

Columbia Names Lamont's Peter de Menocal Dean of Science - Columbia News

Featured News - Fri, 09/30/2016 - 12:00
Columbia University has appointed Lamont oceanographer and paleoclimatologist Peter B. deMenocal as Dean of Science in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Rock You Like an Earthquake: Converting Seismic Waves to Sound - Live Science

Featured News - Wed, 09/28/2016 - 12:00
You can now eavesdrop on some of the world's largest earthquakes from deep inside the planet. A new project led by Lamont's Ben Holtzman and the Seismic Sound Lab lets you see, hear and feel seismic waves. The use of auditory seismology not only has educational applications, but can also lead to better earthquake predictions.

Scientists Raise Red Flags about the Arctic's Future - ClimateWire

Featured News - Wed, 09/28/2016 - 08:00
Science ministers from around the world meet in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss how Arctic warming is affecting life in the north and complicating global climate responses. Lamont's Peter Schlosser discussed some of the concerns scientists have about the region's future.

Science Is Life: Ameena's Story of SSFRP - NYC Science Research Mentoring Consortium

Featured News - Fri, 09/23/2016 - 17:46
Ameena Peters writes about her experiences as a student in Lamont's Secondary School Field Research Program and how it taught her leadership and inspired her love of science.

Summer of Hell and High Water Shows Climate Change Is Here - Rolling Stone

Featured News - Thu, 09/22/2016 - 12:00
Simply put, a hotter atmosphere demands more water. In the drought-prone West, it sucks soils, shrubs and trees bone-dry – setting the stage for fire, Rolling Stone writes. It cites a 2015 Columbia University study, led by Lamont's Park Williams, that found California's drought was up to 25 percent more severe due to global warming.

Human Migration: Climate and the Peopling of the World - Nature

Featured News - Wed, 09/21/2016 - 12:00
The human dispersal out of Africa that populated the world was probably paced by climate changes, Lamont's Peter deMenocal writes in Nature.

The Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor - WNYC

Featured News - Wed, 09/14/2016 - 12:00
Having a master's degree in geology was rare for a woman in the 1950s, but that didn't stop Lamont's Marie Tharp from changing the field forever.

Scientists Find Innovative Way to Capture CO2: Turn It to Stone - PIX11

Featured News - Fri, 09/09/2016 - 12:00
Researchers from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have worked with engineers from Reykjavik Energy to develop a method in which CO2 is mixed into water that is pumped underground into a volcanic rock called basalt. Lamont's Martin Stute explains.

Art Lerner-Lam: Earthquake Risks and Resilience - Revista Qué Pasa

Featured News - Fri, 09/09/2016 - 12:00
Lamont's Art Lerner-Lam spoke with Chilean media about earthquake risks and building resilience during a visit to Chile shortly after the Italy earthquake. (In Spanish)

Global Warming Increased Odds of Louisiana Downpour, Study Says - Associated Press

Featured News - Wed, 09/07/2016 - 14:15
Lamont's Adam Sobel discusses the new NOAA finding that man-made climate change about doubled the chances for the type of heavy downpours that caused devastating Louisiana floods last month.

New York City in the Not-So-Distant Future - New York Magazine

Featured News - Wed, 09/07/2016 - 12:53
New York Magazine talks with Lamont's Klaus Jacob about urban planning in New York City amid the rising risks of climate change.

Pacific Typhoons Are Hitting Asia with More Intensity - Scientific American

Featured News - Tue, 09/06/2016 - 12:00
Lamont's Suzana Camargo explains why more research is needed to distinguish between natural variability and anthropogenic signal.

Creating a landmask for the West Antarctic Peninsula in R

Chasing Microbes in Antarctica - Sun, 09/04/2016 - 08:50

Silicate concentration in µM at 1m depth during the 2014 Palmer LTER cruise.  This plot is lying to you.  The interpolations extend past islets and into landmasses.

This is going to be a pretty niche topic, but probably useful for someone out there.  Lately I’ve been working with a lot of geospatial data for the West Antarctic Peninsula.  One of the things that I needed to do was krig the data (krigging is a form of 2D interpolation, I’m using the pracma library for this).  Krigging is a problem near coastlines because it assumes a contiguous space to work in.  If there happens to be an island or other landmass in the way there is no way to represent the resulting discontinuity in whatever parameter I’m looking at.  Because of this I needed to find a way to mask the output.  This doesn’t really solve the problem, but at least it allows me to identify areas of concern (for example interpolation that extends across an isthmus, if there are sample points only on one side.

I’m krigging and building maps entirely inside R, which has somewhat immature packages for dealing with geospatial data.  The easiest masking solution would be to use filled polygons from any polygon format shapefile that accurately represents the coastline.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find an R package that does this correctly with the shapefiles that I have access too.  In addition, because of my downstream analysis it was better to mask the data itself, and not just block out landmasses in the graphical output.

Sharon Stammerjohn at the NSIDC pointed me to the excellent Bathymetry and Global Relief dataset produced by NOAA.  This wasn’t a complete solution to the problem but it got me moving in the right direction.  From the custom grid extractor at I selected a ETOPO1 (bedrock) grid along the WAP, with xyz as the output format.  If you’re struggling with shapefiles the xyz format is like a cool drink of water, being a 3-column matrix of longitude, latitude, and height (or depth).  For the purpose of creating the mask I considered landmass as any lat-long combination with height > 0.

There is one more really, really big twist to what I was trying to do, however.  The Palmer LTER uses a custom 1 km pixel grid instead of latitude-longitude.  It’s a little easier to conceptualize than lat-long given the large longitude distortions at high latitude (and the inconvenient regional convergence of lat-long values on similar negative numbers).  It is also a little more ecologically relevant, being organized parallel to the coastline instead of north to south.  Unfortunately this makes the grid completely incompatible with other Euclidean reference systems such as UTM.  So before I could use my xyz file to construct a land mask I needed to convert it to the line-station grid system used by the Palmer LTER.  If you’re working in lat-long space you can skip over this part.


The Palmer LTER grid provides a convenient geospatial reference for the study area, but converting between line (y) and station (x) coordinates and latitude-longitude is non-trivial.

Many moons ago someone wrote a Matlab script to convert lat-long to line-station which you can find here.  Unfortunately I’m not a Matlab user, nor am I inclined to become one.  Fortunately it was pretty straightforward to copy-paste the code into R and fix the syntatic differences between the two languages.  Three functions in total are required:

## AUTHORS OF ORIGINAL MATLAB SCRIPT: #   Richard A. Iannuzzi #   Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory # #   based on: LTERGRID program written by Kirk Waters (NOAA Coastal Services Center), February 1997 ## some functions that are used by the main function SetStation <- function(e, n, CENTEREAST, CENTERNORTH, ANGLE){   uu = e - CENTEREAST   vv = n - CENTERNORTH   z1 = cos(ANGLE)   z2 = sin(ANGLE)   NorthKm = (z1 * uu - z2 *vv) / 1000 + 600   EastKm = (z2 * uu + z1 * vv) / 1000 + 40     return(c(NorthKm, EastKm)) } CentralMeridian <- function(iz){   if(abs(iz) > 30){     iutz = abs(iz) - 30     cm = ((iutz * 6.0) -3.0) * -3600   }   else{     iutz = 30 - abs(iz)     cm = ((iutz * 6.0) +3.0) * +3600   }   return(cm) } GeoToUTM <- function(lat, lon, zone){   axis = c(6378206.4,6378249.145,6377397.155,           6378157.5,6378388.,6378135.,6377276.3452,           6378145.,6378137.,6377563.396,6377304.063,           6377341.89,6376896.0,6378155.0,6378160.,           6378245.,6378270.,6378166.,6378150.)     bxis = c(6356583.8,6356514.86955,6356078.96284,           6356772.2,6356911.94613,6356750.519915,6356075.4133,           6356759.769356,6356752.31414,6356256.91,6356103.039,           6356036.143,6355834.8467,6356773.3205,6356774.719,           6356863.0188,6356794.343479,6356784.283666,           6356768.337303)     ak0 = 0.9996   radsec = 206264.8062470964     sphere = 9     a = axis[sphere - 1]             # major axis size   b = bxis[sphere - 1]             # minior axis size   es = ((1-b^2/a^2)^(1/2))^2      # eccentricity squared   slat = lat * 3600                # latitude in seconds   slon = -lon * 3600               # longitude in seconds   cm = 0                           # central meridian in sec   iutz = 0     cm = CentralMeridian(zone)       # call the function     phi = slat/radsec   dlam = -(slon - cm)/radsec   epri = es/(1.0 - es)   en = a/sqrt(1.0 - es * sin(phi)^2)   t = tan(phi)^2   c = epri * cos(phi)^2   aa = dlam * cos(phi)   s2 = sin(2.0 * phi)   s4 = sin(4.0 * phi)   s6 = sin(6.0 * phi)   f1 = (1.0 - (es/4.)-(3.0*es*es/64.)-(5.0*es*es*es/256))   f2 = ((3*es/8)+(3.0*es*es/32)+(45*es*es*es/1024))   f3 = ((15*es*es/256)+(45*es*es*es/1024))   f4 = (35*es*es*es/3072)   em = a*(f1*phi - f2*s2 + f3*s4 - f4*s6)   xx = ak0 * en * (aa + (1.-t+c) * aa^3/6 + (5 - 18*t + t*t + 72*c-58*epri)* aa^5/120) + 5e5   yy = ak0 * (em + en * tan(phi) *((aa*aa/2) + (5-t+9*c+4*c*c)*aa^4/24 + (61-58*t +t*t +600*c - 330*epri)* aa^6/720))     if(zone < 0 | slat < 0){     yy = yy + 1e7   }     return(c(xx, yy)) } ## This function actually works with your data ll2gridLter <- function(inlat, inlon){   NorthKm = 0           # initialize   EastKm = 0            # initialize   zone = -20            # set zone (for LTER region, I think)   ANGLE = -50 * pi / 180   CENTEREAST = 433820.404        # eastings for station 600.040   CENTERNORTH = 2798242.817     # northings for station 600.040     # take latitude longitude and get station   x.y = GeoToUTM(inlat, inlon, zone)   NorthKm.EastKm = SetStation(x.y[1], x.y[2], CENTEREAST, CENTERNORTH, ANGLE)   return(NorthKm.EastKm) }

Once the functions are defined I used them to convert the lat/long coordinates in the xyz file to line-station.

## Read in xyz file. lat.long.depth <- read.table('', header = F, col.names = c('long', 'lat', 'depth')) ## Limit to points above sea level. <- lat.long.depth[which(lat.long.depth$depth >= 0),] ## Create a matrix to hold the output. <- matrix(ncol = 3, nrow = length($long)) colnames(line.station.depth) <- c('line', 'station', 'depth') ## Execute the ll2gridLter function on each point. Yes, I'm using a loop to do this. for(i in 1:length($long)){[i,] <- c(ll2gridLter($lat[i],$long[i]),$depth[i])   print(paste(c(i,[i,]))) } ## Write out the matrix. write.csv(, 'palmer_grid_landmask.csv', row.names = F, quote = F)

At this point I had a nice csv file with line, station, and elevation.  I was able to read this into my existing krigging script and convert into a mask.

## Read in csv file. landmask <- read.csv('palmer_grid_landmask.csv') ## Limit to the lines and stations that I'm interested in. landmask <- landmask[which(landmask[,1] <= 825 & landmask[,1] >= -125),] landmask <- landmask[which(landmask[,2] <= 285 & landmask[,2] >= -25),] ## Interpolated data is at 1 km resolution, need to round off ## to same resolution here. landmask.expand <- cbind(ceiling(landmask[,1]), ceiling(landmask[,2])) ## Unfortunately this doesn't adequately mask the land. Need to expand the size of each ## masked pixel 1 km in each direction. landmask.expand <- rbind(landmask.expand, cbind(floor(landmask[,1]), floor(landmask[,2]))) landmask.expand <- rbind(landmask.expand, cbind(ceiling(landmask[,1]), floor(landmask[,2]))) landmask.expand <- rbind(landmask.expand, cbind(floor(landmask[,1]), ceiling(landmask[,2]))) landmask.expand <- unique(landmask.expand)

I’m not going to cover how I did the krigging in this post.  My krigged data is in matrix called temp.pred.matrix with colnames given by ‘x’ followed by ‘station’, as in x20 for station 20, and row names ‘y’ followed by ‘line’, as in y100 for line 100.  To convert interpolated points that are actually land to NA values I simply added this line to my code:

temp.pred.matrix[cbind(paste0('y', landmask.expand[,1]), paste0('x', landmask.expand[,2] * -1))]

Here’s what the krigged silicate data looks like after masking.


Silicate concentration in µM at 1m depth during the 2014 Palmer LTER cruise after masking the underlying data.

Excellent.  The masked area corresponds with known landmasses; that’s Adelaide Island (home of Rothera Station) at the bottom of the Peninsula, and various islets and the western edge of the Antarctic Peninsula to the northeast.  At this point erroneous data has been eliminated from the matrix.  Annual inventories and such can be more accurately calculated form the data and our eyes are drawn to interesting features in the interpolation that have no chance of reflecting reality because they are over land.  The white doesn’t look that appealing to me in this plot however, so I masked the land with black by adding points to the plot.  Again, I’m not going to show the whole plotting routine because some variables called would require a lengthy explanation about how the larger data is structured.  The plot was created using imagep in the oce package.  This command automatically transposes the matrix.

## Show masked points as black squares. points(landmask.expand[,1] ~ {-1 * landmask.expand[,2]}, pch = 15, cex = 0.6)

And the final plot:


Silicate concentration in µM at 1m depth during the 2014 Palmer LTER cruise after masking the underlying data and adding points to indicate the masked area.



Truth and Beauty - Columbia Magazine

Featured News - Wed, 08/31/2016 - 17:38
Colors, patterns, symmetries, textures. Just look at the photographs produced in recent years by Columbia scientists for Lamont's Research as Art program and you can begin to appreciate why so many artists take their cues from nature.

Seeing Is Believing: How Marie Tharp Changed Geology - Smithsonian Magazine

Featured News - Tue, 08/30/2016 - 12:00
There’s no denying that maps can change the way we think about the world. But what about the way we think about what’s underneath? That was the case in 1953, when a young Lamont geologist named Marie Tharp made a map that helped set the stage for understanding plate tectonics.

Two Earthquakes, One Day: Examining Italy and Myanmar - National Geographic

Featured News - Wed, 08/24/2016 - 12:00
Large earthquakes shook Italy and Myanmar on the same day this month. Though the quakes were similar in size — magnitude 6.2 in Italy and 6.8 in Myanmar — the seismic events were unrelated. National Geographic talked with Lamont's Mike Steckler.

Why the Earthquake in Italy Was So Destructive - Washington Post

Featured News - Wed, 08/24/2016 - 12:00
The earth beneath Italy's Apennine Range — where a magnitude-6.2 earthquake struck early today — is a tangle of fault lines and fractured rock. Lamont's Leonardo Seeber has studied the tectonic activity of this region for more than 35 years and talked with the Washington Post about the risks.



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