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Could Carbon Dioxide Be Stored Deep Beneath NYC? - LiveScience

Featured News - Wed, 09/25/2013 - 09:44
Lamont researchers David Goldberg, Dennis Kent and Paul Olsen are overseeing the deep drilling into rock that underlies the New York City area to see if they could be used for storing carbon dioxide.

Major Wind and Rain Belts Could Shift North as Earth Warms - Yale e360

Featured News - Tue, 09/24/2013 - 11:00
Coverage of study in PNAS by Lamont's Wallace Broecker and Aaron Putnam.

Pakistan Earthquake Creates New Island, Mud Volcano to Blame - NBC News

Featured News - Tue, 09/24/2013 - 11:00
Lamont seismologist John Armbruster explains how a mud volcano likely created the island that suddenly appeared after a magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck western Pakistan on Tuesday.

Lamont Scientists Test CO2 Storage Potential with Palisades Drilling - (Rockland, NY) Journal News

Featured News - Tue, 09/24/2013 - 10:08
Cores of rock pulled from under the Lamont-Doherty campus are providing a glimpse into a geological formation known as the Newark Basin. The scientists want to know whether the formation — or similar ones elsewhere — could be used to store carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and other industrial sources.

The Warming Climate Could Scorch America's West - The Atlantic Cities

Featured News - Tue, 09/24/2013 - 09:57
In a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Lamont's Wallace Broecker and Aaron Putnam find a worrying similarity between the modern climate and one that existed 15,000 years ago, when Earth was emerging from the last ice age.

Arsenic Contamination Threatens Water in Hanoi - New York Times

Featured News - Mon, 09/23/2013 - 11:00
Research by Lamont's Alexander van Geen and Benjamin Bostick suggests that arsenic is leaching into the drinking-water aquifer that serves Hanoi, Vietnam.

Three Natural Disasters We're Expecting - Al Jazeera America

Featured News - Sat, 09/21/2013 - 11:00
The biblical floods in Colorado this week were both extensive and devastating. They were also expected. Lamont's Arthur Lerner-Lam and Richard Seager cited in this preview of what to expect in floods, droughts and earthquakes in the future.

City Students Quiz IcePod Scientists - Poughkeepsie Journal

Featured News - Fri, 09/20/2013 - 08:44
Students at Poughkeepsie High School ask scientists at Lamont-Doherty in a live chat about their work measuring ice loss in Greenland.

Climate Science: Rising Tide - Nature News

Featured News - Wed, 09/18/2013 - 15:14
Researchers struggle to project how fast, how high and how far the oceans will rise. Lamont-Doherty scientist Maureen Raymo explains what reconstructing sea level from 3 million years ago can tell us about what lies ahead.

Climate Change to Have Double Impact - The Guardian

Featured News - Wed, 09/18/2013 - 11:17
New research by Lamont-Doherty scientist Michael Previdi shows that traditional IPCC models may be underestimating global warming by omitting slower feedbacks.

Giant Underground Blob of Magma Puzzles Scientists - Live Science

Featured News - Tue, 09/17/2013 - 11:00
Lamont-Doherty geophysicist Roger Buck discusses evolving views of the continental spreading taking place in Ethiopia's Afar Rift.

The Pluvial Continues… Has the Long Rain Epoch Begun?

The Broadleaf Papers - Sun, 09/15/2013 - 20:04

It was midday. It was dark. It was June! It was pouring. We were sitting in my folk’s cabin in the Adirondacks when my dad groaned, “This is depressing”. Later on that same day, a hometown friend made a similar exclamation. Elizabeth’s update triggered a deluge of similar sentiments. During that discussion, she made reference to The Long Rain. It was the perfect comparison. Judging from the sentiment in our cabin, in the newspapers, and on Facebook, Central New York was on the edge of insanity because of the unrelenting rain.

 N. Pederson

A deluge during the Long Rain of June 2013 at Black Rock Forest. Photo: N. Pederson


It was too early in the season to write this post. Predicting future rainfall is like trying to predict Dennis Rodman’s next career move: It will move in a new direction, but no one can pinpoint the trajectory. But now, as Cortland and Macoun apples grace us with their presence, we can now safely say that summer is over (I do not care what the tilt of the Earth says. It is apple season!). In fact, the Northeast Regional Climate Center and NOAA have completed an early overview of this past summer’s climate. Their conclusion regarding precipitation in the Northeastern US? The Pluvial continues.

 it was wet in the NYC region. Image from NOAA's climate summary page. Hat Tip to Stockton Maxwell for sharing this graphic with me.

NOAA August and Summer 2013 summary of significant events. Hint: it was wet in the NYC region. Image from NOAA’s climate summary page. Hat Tip to Stockton Maxwell for sharing this graphic with me.


Actually, these overviews typically discuss climate of just the most recent month or season year or versus the “climate normal.” While useful, these summaries do not paint the full picture. Consider this: A climate normal is often based on a recent 30-year period, like 1970-2000. Now consider this: Instrumental records for the Northeastern U.S. (below) and analyses for the Catskills region and southern New York State, here and here, indicate that since the 1960s drought, the region has seen a substantial increase in precipitation; in fact, hydroclimate seems quite unusual since 2000. Now really consider this: A tree-ring reconstruction of moisture availability indicates that the recent wetting comes at the end of a 120-180 year trend (and maybe longer). So, the daily comparisons on TV or other media sources are typically based upon recent climate and ignore the past. Thus, based upon paleo records, the full picture indicates that we are sitting in one of the more unusually wet periods of the last 500 years.

Northeastern US summer precipitation from 1895-2013. 2013 is the second wettest summer on record for the entire region. Data and image procured from NOAA.

Northeastern US summer precipitation from 1895-2013. 2013 is the second wettest summer on record for the entire region. Also note the only two years since 2002 are below the average since 1895. And, they are marginally below the mean at best. Data and image from NOAA.


I return to this topic because of: 1) the many implications of this climatic shift and, most importantly, 2) what seems to be a limited amount of public awareness of how wet it has become in recent decades (though this awareness is growing). The substantial change in moisture across the Northeastern U.S. (the draft of the 2013 3rd assessment is here) is more commonly known in the scientific literature, but it seems to be less well-known outside of that community. For example, under the tab “Climate Change” on the Northeast Regional Climate Center’s excellent web resource, one can only find minimum and maximum temperatures when seeking to understand how much the climate has changed. An increasing trend in precipitation just doesn’t seem to grip the attention of most people like an intense heat wave or drought. In fact, an editor remarked to a freelance writer that they’d only do a story on the change in precipitation in the NYC region if “they were painting the lawns green on Staten Island.

For the people in Vermont, the Catskills, Mohawk Valley, and those wishing to use beaches in the summer along the coast, this seems a bit short-sighted. Excess rain is costly. It costs the people still trying to rebuild in the Catskills from the flooding of 2011 (and it isn’t just the two tropical storms that triggered the flooding – new research indicates that because the soils were saturated, the impact of Irene and Lee were worse than they might have been in other times). It costs people in Vermont wanting to rebuild their cultural heritage. It will cost all of us in NY State if tax breaks are given to expand flood relief measures in five counties and restoration and reconstruction of managed water systems; climatic change disregards political boundaries. It might cost us if we are managing forests for a long-gone climatic era. It further erodes trust between country and city folk as well as citizens and their government. Tragically, it costs lives.

So, as we become aware of the impacts of additional rainfall (and certainly there are additional costly impacts than what is listed above), we need to know that precipitation is likely to increase over the coming century. Model projections indicate it is likely that the Northeast will get wetter and have more extreme rain events. This doesn’t mean we will not experience droughts in the future, nor does it mean each summer will be like 2011 or 2013. And, these model projections could be wrong. But, our state of knowledge indicates that these Long Rain conditions could become more common.

This shouldn’t be viewed as more environmental doom and gloom. Humans have enormous brains and know how to use them! See: Klaus Jacob. We have the ability to prepare for potential adversity. And, if it isn’t clear by now, humans are one of the more adaptable and flexible animals on the planet. Heck, we might even celebrate wetter conditions with some enormous fun. And, from my Broadleaf perspective, the Northeast could become a temperate rainforest with bigger trees and a denser forest.* Folks spend enormous money to experience such things.

 N. Pederson

Dario Martin-Benito and Javier Martin-Fernandez in the Oriental beech dominated Colchic temperate rainforest in the Mtirala National Forest of the Republic of Georgia. Photo: N. Pederson







* unless future warming overwhelms our rain wealth and stunts the future forest…. apologies. It is hard to avoid all of the potential doom and gloom…


The Case Against Rebuilding the Coastline Post Sandy - The Atlantic Cities

Featured News - Sat, 09/14/2013 - 11:37
We should be retreating from the shore, not developing structures that will only flood again, argues Lamont-Doherty natural disaster expert Klaus Jacob in this op-ed.

How Sandy Changed the Way We Issue Storm Warnings - Earth magazine

Featured News - Thu, 09/12/2013 - 09:40
Lamont-Doherty scientist Adam Sobel discusses problems related to Hurricane Sandy response.

Over-Pumping Draws Arsenic into Hanoi Water, Says Study - AFP

Featured News - Wed, 09/11/2013 - 11:00
Arsenic has infiltrated an aquifer that provides water for the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, says a new study in Nature led by Lamont-Doherty scientist Alexander van Geen.

Did a Comet Really Kill the Mammoths 12,900 Years Ago? - National Geographic News

Featured News - Wed, 09/11/2013 - 10:36
Lamont's Wally Broecker weighs in on the hypothesis that an extraterrestrial impact nearly 13,000 years ago briefly cooled the planet and killed off North America's mega-fauna.

Could Fracking Store Trillions of Tons of CO2 in Rocks? - Climatewire

Featured News - Tue, 09/10/2013 - 11:00
Feature about Lamont-Doherty scientists Peter Kelemen and Juerg Matters work in Oman to study the potential for exposed mantle rocks to store excess CO2.

Microgrids: A New Kind of Power Struggle - Climate Central

Featured News - Tue, 09/10/2013 - 07:58
Lamont's Roger Anderson discusses the hurdles to installing self-contained electricity networks, or micro-grids, in NYC to make cites more storm-resilient.

Drones Find New Purpose Studying Arctic Ice Melt - Climate Central

Featured News - Sun, 09/08/2013 - 11:00
Lamont's Chris Zappa explains how drones are helping to study climate change and sea-level rise in remote polar regions.

Out of Sync - Audubon

Featured News - Fri, 09/06/2013 - 09:41
Audubon magazine follows Lamont-Doherty ecologist Natalie Boelman to Alaska's Toolik Field Station to learn how climate change is affecting migratory birds.
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