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Non-Profit, Lamont Team Up for Sustainability Program - Orangetown Daily Voice

Featured News - Wed, 11/09/2016 - 17:07
Students from nine Rockland County high schools will get hands-on experience at land use planning at collaborative workshops with Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Rockland Conservation Service Corps.

Poaching on the Rise — Most Illegal Ivory Comes from Recently Killed Elephants - The Verge

Featured News - Wed, 11/09/2016 - 16:55
Almost all the world’s illegal ivory comes from elephants that have been recently killed, according to a new study from Lamont's Kevin Uno.

Recently Killed Elephants Are Fueling the Ivory Trade - Science Magazine

Featured News - Mon, 11/07/2016 - 12:00
The illegal trade in elephant ivory is being fueled almost entirely by recently killed African elephants, not by tusks leaked from old government stockpiles, as had long been suspected. That’s the conclusion of a new study from Lamont's Kevin Uno that relies on nuclear bomb tests carried out in the 1950s and ’60s to date elephant tusks.

Year by Year, Line by Line, We Build an Image of Getz Ice Shelf

Ice Bridge Blog - Sun, 11/06/2016 - 16:16
Grease Ice

Newly formed sea ice called “grease ice” looks like thin layers of mica along the front of the Getz Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Photo: M. Turrin

Antarctic ice appears in a range of types and sizes, from the newly formed skim of ice on the ocean called grease ice (above), to the older meter thick layers of sea ice, to chunks of icebergs, floating reaches of ice shelves, and finally the massive land based Antarctic ice sheet. Each part of this ice inventory has a unique role in the larger climate system, but they also work together. As part of this year’s IceBridge Antarctic flight campaign, we are focused largely on the coastline to build a better understanding of the interaction of these different pieces in the ice system. This understanding is central to improving our climate models.

Break in Ice Shelf

Evidence of a break along the front edge of Getz Ice Shelf, Antartica. In the foreground a mixture of newly forming sea ice has mixed with icebergs to form what is called “brash ice.” Photo: M. Turrin

The focus today is on Getz ice shelf. Ice shelves form when ice flows off the land into the surrounding ocean, forming a thick apron of attached, but floating ice. The Getz shelf extends out several miles from where the glacier empties into the ocean. The shelves are deep floating blocks of ice ~ a km thick where they first meet the ocean and thinned to several hundred meters thick at their front edge. They are critical for the future stability of the Antarctic ice sheet as they provide a barrier that holds back the continental ice sheet, braking its flow from land into the ocean.

Image noting the location of some of the larger ice shelves around Antarctica (Image T. Scambos NSIDC)

Image noting the location and size of  a dozen or so of the larger ice shelves around Antarctica. Image: T. Scambos NSIDC

In all ~ 45 ice shelves adorn almost half the Antarctica coastline, and represent an area of ~1.5 million km², close to 10 percent of the total ice that covers Antarctica. Ten of these are considered major shelves, with the largest two nestled in the junctures where East and West Antarctic meet, filling in the space with California-sized blocks of ice: the Ross Ice Shelf (at 472,960 km²), where Lamont-Doherty currently has another Antarctic research project called Rosetta running, and the Filchner-Ronne (422,420 km²) across from it. Many of the shelves are smaller, yet each serves a valuable role in Antarctic ice stability, and thus they are a prime focus for examining change in Antarctica.

Tabular icebergs after separating fro the ice shelf line up along the front of Getz before moving out into the ocean. (Photo M. Turrin)

Large tabular icebergs after separating from the ice shelf line up along the front of Getz before moving out into the ocean. Photo: M. Turrin

Changes in Antarctic ice have been dominated by the interaction of the ice and the ocean, and because ice shelves extend out into the water, they are vulnerable to melt from the warmer ocean water. Melt can affect them in two ways, through thinning along their length and through causing a retreat of the “grounding line.”  The grounding line is the critical spot where the ice goes from being frozen all the way to the ocean floor (or bed) to where it begins to float in the ocean. The grounding line retreat results from warm water melting the ice back from its frozen base. Tracking any changes to the location of the grounding line tells us a lot about the vulnerability of the ice shelf and is critical to setting models.

Ice shelves sit primarily below the ocean surface. Getz measures close to 200 ft. at the front but with another 1000 ft. below the surface. The rich blue color along the front edge is from that deep reaching ice front. (Photo M. Turrin)

Ice shelves sit primarily below the ocean surface. Getz measures close to 200 ft. elevation above the ocean at the front, but has another 1000 ft. of ice below the surface. The rich blue color along the front edge is from that deep reaching ice front. Photo: M. Turrin

Getz ice shelf is our furthest flight mission of the campaign at close to 12 hours of flying, and it is our fifth mission this week, with each one clocking 11 plus hours of flight with prep and wrap-up added on either end. It could feel a bit like a rerun of the same movie, but it never does, and the wear of the long days doesn’t appear to show on the team. The purpose of today is to continue mapping the sub ice-shelf bathymetry using our gravimeter, as well as the ice surface and bedrock upstream of the grounding line using laser and radar. We need a complete look at the grounding line and the bed under the ice shelf, where warm ocean water can move in and circulate under the ice, in order to improve our models. Gravity is critical for uncovering the surface depths and contours under the ice shelves, as none of the other instruments on board are able to collect data through the water that lies under the shelf.

Mountain Protrusion

A set of mountains protrudes up through the ice at the west end of the survey line along the edge of the Getz Ice Shelf. Photo: M. Turrin

Because of the distance to Getz from our daily starting point in Chile, we have been building a set of data over a series of years, line by line. Each year we collect a repeat track and a new track. We know Getz has changed. Eighteen months ago in March 2015, a NASA image from space captured a Manhattan-sized iceberg (17 miles long) breaking off of Getz Ice Shelf. This break appears to have occurred at the end of the last austral summer in late February. Today we can see large sections of ice that will soon be calving, but what this means will need to be matched to the other measurements we are collecting before we know the full set of changes in Getz.

IceBridge: Since 2009, the NASA IceBridge project has brought together science teams to monitor and measure each of the ice features in order to improve our understanding of changes in the climate system and our models. Lamont-Doherty, under lead scientists Jim Cochran and Kirsty Tinto, has led up the gravity and magnetics measurements for these campaigns. This season alone, the project has logged 195 hours of flight time to date, and flown an equivalent of a third of the way to the moon.

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Year by Year, Line by Line, We Build an Image of Getz Ice Shelf

Tracking Antarctica's Ice Shelves - Sun, 11/06/2016 - 16:16
Grease Ice

Newly formed sea ice called “grease ice” looks like thin layers of mica along the front of the Getz Ice Shelf, Antarctica. Photo: M. Turrin

Antarctic ice appears in a range of types and sizes, from the newly formed skim of ice on the ocean called grease ice (above), to the older meter thick layers of sea ice, to chunks of icebergs, floating reaches of ice shelves, and finally the massive land based Antarctic ice sheet. Each part of this ice inventory has a unique role in the larger climate system, but they also work together. As part of this year’s IceBridge Antarctic flight campaign, we are focused largely on the coastline to build a better understanding of the interaction of these different pieces in the ice system. This understanding is central to improving our climate models.

Break in Ice Shelf

Evidence of a break along the front edge of Getz Ice Shelf, Antartica. In the foreground a mixture of newly forming sea ice has mixed with icebergs to form what is called “brash ice.” Photo: M. Turrin

The focus today is on Getz ice shelf. Ice shelves form when ice flows off the land into the surrounding ocean, forming a thick apron of attached, but floating ice. The Getz shelf extends out several miles from where the glacier empties into the ocean. The shelves are deep floating blocks of ice ~ a km thick where they first meet the ocean and thinned to several hundred meters thick at their front edge. They are critical for the future stability of the Antarctic ice sheet as they provide a barrier that holds back the continental ice sheet, braking its flow from land into the ocean.

Image noting the location of some of the larger ice shelves around Antarctica (Image T. Scambos NSIDC)

Image noting the location and size of  a dozen or so of the larger ice shelves around Antarctica. Image: T. Scambos NSIDC

In all ~ 45 ice shelves adorn almost half the Antarctica coastline, and represent an area of ~1.5 million km², close to 10 percent of the total ice that covers Antarctica. Ten of these are considered major shelves, with the largest two nestled in the junctures where East and West Antarctic meet, filling in the space with California-sized blocks of ice: the Ross Ice Shelf (at 472,960 km²), where Lamont-Doherty currently has another Antarctic research project called Rosetta running, and the Filchner-Ronne (422,420 km²) across from it. Many of the shelves are smaller, yet each serves a valuable role in Antarctic ice stability, and thus they are a prime focus for examining change in Antarctica.

Tabular icebergs after separating fro the ice shelf line up along the front of Getz before moving out into the ocean. (Photo M. Turrin)

Large tabular icebergs after separating from the ice shelf line up along the front of Getz before moving out into the ocean. Photo: M. Turrin

Changes in Antarctic ice have been dominated by the interaction of the ice and the ocean, and because ice shelves extend out into the water, they are vulnerable to melt from the warmer ocean water. Melt can affect them in two ways, through thinning along their length and through causing a retreat of the “grounding line.”  The grounding line is the critical spot where the ice goes from being frozen all the way to the ocean floor (or bed) to where it begins to float in the ocean. The grounding line retreat results from warm water melting the ice back from its frozen base. Tracking any changes to the location of the grounding line tells us a lot about the vulnerability of the ice shelf and is critical to setting models.

Ice shelves sit primarily below the ocean surface. Getz measures close to 200 ft. at the front but with another 1000 ft. below the surface. The rich blue color along the front edge is from that deep reaching ice front. (Photo M. Turrin)

Ice shelves sit primarily below the ocean surface. Getz measures close to 200 ft. elevation above the ocean at the front, but has another 1000 ft. of ice below the surface. The rich blue color along the front edge is from that deep reaching ice front. Photo: M. Turrin

Getz ice shelf is our furthest flight mission of the campaign at close to 12 hours of flying, and it is our fifth mission this week, with each one clocking 11 plus hours of flight with prep and wrap-up added on either end. It could feel a bit like a rerun of the same movie, but it never does, and the wear of the long days doesn’t appear to show on the team. The purpose of today is to continue mapping the sub ice-shelf bathymetry using our gravimeter, as well as the ice surface and bedrock upstream of the grounding line using laser and radar. We need a complete look at the grounding line and the bed under the ice shelf, where warm ocean water can move in and circulate under the ice, in order to improve our models. Gravity is critical for uncovering the surface depths and contours under the ice shelves, as none of the other instruments on board are able to collect data through the water that lies under the shelf.

Mountain Protrusion

A set of mountains protrudes up through the ice at the west end of the survey line along the edge of the Getz Ice Shelf. Photo: M. Turrin

Because of the distance to Getz from our daily starting point in Chile, we have been building a set of data over a series of years, line by line. Each year we collect a repeat track and a new track. We know Getz has changed. Eighteen months ago in March 2015, a NASA image from space captured a Manhattan-sized iceberg (17 miles long) breaking off of Getz Ice Shelf. This break appears to have occurred at the end of the last austral summer in late February. Today we can see large sections of ice that will soon be calving, but what this means will need to be matched to the other measurements we are collecting before we know the full set of changes in Getz.

IceBridge: Since 2009, the NASA IceBridge project has brought together science teams to monitor and measure each of the ice features in order to improve our understanding of changes in the climate system and our models. Lamont-Doherty, under lead scientists Jim Cochran and Kirsty Tinto, has led up the gravity and magnetics measurements for these campaigns. This season alone, the project has logged 195 hours of flight time to date, and flown an equivalent of a third of the way to the moon.

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Climate and Homo Sapiens Migration during the Last Ice Age - The John Batchelor Show

Featured News - Fri, 11/04/2016 - 07:19
John Batchelor talks with Lamont's Peter de Menocal about the timing of when Homo sapiens began migrating from Africa.

Sand Demand at the Center of Beach Replenishment Planning - WorkBoat

Featured News - Thu, 11/03/2016 - 12:00
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is compiling and updating maps and databases about offshore sediment resources from Maine to Florida for use in post-hurricane beach replenishment. The cores from those offshore deposits are now being kept at the Lamont Core Repository.

Where Science Lives: Carlos Becerril - New York Academy of Sciences

Featured News - Wed, 11/02/2016 - 08:42
Lamont's Carlos Becerril talks with the New York Academy of Sciences about his team's work building ocean bottom seismometers as part of the Ocean Bottom Seismograph Instrument Pool (OBSIP).

Thousands Displaced After Italy Earthquake - CBS News

Featured News - Mon, 10/31/2016 - 15:29
A magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck Italy on Oct. 30 following two smaller earthquakes a few days earlier and a devastating earthquake there in August. “Probably it's every hundred years you get a repeat of a series of earthquakes,” Lamont's Michael Steckler told CBS News.

Water Challenges of Megacities - Eos

Featured News - Wed, 10/26/2016 - 12:00
Looking ahead to looming water quantity shortfalls, Lamont's Yan Zheng argues that using reclaimed water for managed aquifer recharge needs to play a larger role in China’s water management strategies.

Climate Change Is Fueling America’s Forest Fires - Huffington Post

Featured News - Thu, 10/20/2016 - 12:00
The wildfires that raged through the Western United States this year claimed lives, destroyed hundreds of homes and cost taxpayers millions of dollars. A new study from Columbia University's Park Williams has found that climate change has been exacerbating wildfires in the Western United States for decades.

This Antarctic Glacier May Be One of the Biggest Threats to Sea Level - Washington Post

Featured News - Thu, 10/20/2016 - 12:00
U.S. and British science agencies announced a multimillion-dollar research mission to study Antarctica's enormous Thwaites Glacier, which could hold the potential for major sea level rise this century. Getting “up close and personal” with the glacier will help researchers close critical data and knowledge gaps, said Lamont's Robin Bell.

The 11 Greatest Engineering Innovations of 2016 - Popular Science

Featured News - Wed, 10/19/2016 - 12:00
Lamont's carbon capture and storage project in Iceland that proved we could turn CO2 from a power plant to a solid mineral in a short period of time was listed among the greatest engineering innovations of 2016. The project was led by Juerg Matter and Martin Stute.

Heather Savage to Receive AGU Mineral and Rock Physics Early Career Award - Eos

Featured News - Tue, 10/18/2016 - 12:00
Lamont's Heather Savage will receive AGU's 2016 Mineral and Rock Physics Early Career Award at the 2016 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. The award is for promising young scientists in recognition of outstanding contributions achieved during their Ph.D. research.

The West Is Burning, and Climate Change Is Partly to Blame - FiveThirtyEight

Featured News - Tue, 10/18/2016 - 12:00
In a new study, Lamont's Park Williams estimates that human-caused climate change was responsible for nearly doubling the forest area that burned in the Western U.S. between 1984 and 2015. If the last few decades had been simply dry, instead of some of the hottest and driest on record, perhaps 10.4 million fewer acres would have burned, he says.

The Coming Great Quakes in India and Bangladesh?

Geohazards in Bangladesh - Tue, 10/18/2016 - 11:54

A new film takes viewers from the eastern highlands of India to the booming lowland metropolis of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh–and explores an ever-more detailed picture of catastrophic earthquake threat that scientists are discovering under the region.

Scientists from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the University of Dhaka and other institutions have been working for more than a decade to understand deeply buried geologic structures that could produce earthquakes here, one of the most densely populated places on earth.  No one can predict when the next quake will strike, or how big it will be–but clearly there is potential for a very large one. “Some of this have long suspected this hazard, but we didn’t have the data and a model,” says Lamont-Doherty geophysicist Michael Steckler, leader of a recently published study outlining the threat.

Under Bangladesh, India and neighboring Myanmar, the scientists have found signs of a megathrust–the meeting of two gigantic moving tectonic plates, with one diving under the other. But the plates don’t seem to be moving right now; they are locked, and strain is building. The researchers say that when–not if–the plates do slip, destruction and casualties could be massive. Some 140 million people might be affected.

The hazard has been hard to assess up to now, because most of the region’s underlying geology is covered by the world’s largest river delta–miles-deep layers of sediment carried down from the Himalayas and built up over millennia. The team has deployed seismometers, GPS instruments, satellite imagery and other technology to draw up a picture of what is going on down below.

The region is unprepared. Not only are many people too poor to build earthquake-resistant structures. “From history, there’s been a lot of destructive earthquakes in this area, but there hasn’t been one in recent years, so people tend to forget,” said Lamont-Doherty geologist Leonardo Seeber. Geologist Humayun Akhter of the University of Dhaka, said, “Our cities are not built in a planned way, and this cannot be changed in a few years. So we have to work within this system, and teach our people how to cope.”

The movie was made by filmmakers Douglas Prose and Diane LaMacchia with support from the U.S. National Science Foundation. The NSF also funded the research.

 

Men Twice as Likely to Get Outstanding Letters of Recommendation - Huffington Post

Featured News - Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:00
A new study of letters of recommendation written for post-doctoral scientists found that professors were twice as likely to write glowing letters of recommendation, as opposed to letters reflecting a merely good candidate, for men compared to women. The study was led by Lamont's Kuheli Dutt.

Like a Rolling Stone: A Talk With Peter Kelemen - Columbia Daily Spectator

Featured News - Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:00
The Columbia Spectator talks with Lamont geologist Peter Kelemen about his career, climate change, and climbing.

Trek to a Giant Mongolian Glacier That Holds Secrets to Global Warming - Pacific Standard

Featured News - Mon, 10/17/2016 - 12:00
Deep in the Altai mountains, scientists are using drones and chemistry to study glacier-formed ridges that could help unlock the mysteries of abrupt climate change. Lamont's Adjunct Associate Research Professor Aaron Putnam and Lamont Research Professor Joerg Schaefer describe their work to Pacific Standard.

Greenland Is Melting - The New Yorker

Featured News - Mon, 10/17/2016 - 07:05
The shrinking of Greenland’s ice sheet is triggering feedback loops that accelerate the global crisis. Elizabeth Kolbert cites research by Lamont's Marco Tedesco.

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