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Unexpected Sisters

Geopoetry - Fri, 05/23/2014 - 08:42
 BBC Photo Library.

An artist’s rendering of the extinct Elephant bird (Aepyornis maximus), which lived in Madagascar. Aepyornis stood over 3 meters tall. Image source: BBC Photo Library.

 

An ancient island’s trove of treasure: Madagascan fauna
Tenrec, fossa, lemur, hippo, dugong, bat, iguana.
A giant bird – O, wondrous beast! – a half a ton, and tall,
Laid foot-long eggs, had beefy legs, and did not fly at all.
Another ratite, far away within the South Pacific,
The kiwi! Shy, with furry feathers, appetite terrific.
Among the old-jawed birds, you wouldn’t guess that they’re close kin,
But DNA reveals a link from deep, deep down within.
If the kiwi’s closest kin is not its moa neighbor,
Drawing up the family tree might seem a puzzling labor.
The simplest answer blows the mind – it seems that they all flew
With wings they spread across the globe, and filled in niches new.
Dinos gone (darn asteroid) left lots of open spaces,
Birds came in, diversified, flew on an as-need basis.
From this, it seems that flightlessness evolved six separate times!
The song of life, though improvised, with patterns clear it chimes.

 

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Further reading:

Ancient DNA reveals elephant birds and kiwi are sister taxa and clarifies ratite bird evolution, Mitchell et al., 2014, Science.

Little kiwi, huge extinct elephant bird were birds of a feather, Reuters

The Surprising Closest Relative of the Huge Elephant Birds, National Geographic

This is one in a series of poems based on science news, written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Flood-Resistant Neighborhood Would Be 80 Years in the Making - WNYC

Featured News - Thu, 05/22/2014 - 11:00
A new neighborhood built on landfill in the East River would withstand a 100-year flood; But is that enough? Lamont's Klaus Jacob weighs in.

Yakima Herald Republic - What Lies Beneath Mount St. Helens?

Featured News - Tue, 05/20/2014 - 11:00
Features an upcoming project with Lamont's Geoffrey Abers to understand how Washington’s most active volcano works.

Desert Blocked Spread of Early Dinosaurs - National Geographic

Featured News - Tue, 05/20/2014 - 11:00
An immense desert kept dinosaurs from spreading into what is now North America for millions of years, suggests a study led by Lamont's Dennis Kent in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In Taking Crimea, Putin Gains a Sea of Fuel Reserves - New York Times

Featured News - Sun, 05/18/2014 - 11:00
Lamont-Doherty marine geologist William Ryan, who has studied the Black Sea region extensively, comments on the oil resources within Russia's newly claimed maritime zone around Crimea.

Rockland Scientist Now Geology Heavyweight - (Rockland, N.Y.) Journal News

Featured News - Sun, 05/18/2014 - 11:00
Profile of Lamont-Doherty climate scientist Maureen Raymo, winner of the 2014 Wollaston Medal.

Weak Underbelly

Geopoetry - Fri, 05/16/2014 - 10:44
 New York Times.

A view of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (Landsat). Source: New York Times.

 

Antarctica’s uncertain fuse,
A “weak underbelly,” said Hughes.
Pine Island and Thwaites,
Thrown open, the gates?
As humans, what path should we choose?

The East’s held strong millions of years,
Despite cries of wolf from some peers.
West into the sea,
Up one foot, or three?
Uncertainty some meet with sneers.

Below salty waves, ice is grounded …
In this case, we see fears are founded.
In our defense,
Some centuries hence,
I hope they’ll say reason resounded.

 

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Further reading:

Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans From Polar Melt, Justin Gillis and Kenneth Chang, New York Times.

Marine Ice Sheet Collapse Potentially Underway for the Thwaites Glacier Basin, West Antarctica, Joughin et al., 2014, Science.

Widespread, rapid grounding line retreat of Pine Island, Thwaites, Smith and Kohler glaciers, West Antarctica from 1992 to 2011, Rignot et al., 2014, PNAS.

This is one in a series of poems based on science news, written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Droughts May Slash US Maize Gains - Climate News Network

Featured News - Wed, 05/14/2014 - 08:19
Dramatic climate events can change forest composition, says a recent study led by Lamont's Neil Pederson.

'Missing' Mud in Hudson River Holds Climate Change Clue - (Rockland, N.Y.) Journal News

Featured News - Mon, 05/12/2014 - 11:00
Lamont's Tim Kenna and Frank Nitsche go looking for more than a million tons of sediment washed into the Hudson River during Hurricane Irene.

Agency Urges Quake Study for Indian Point - New York Times

Featured News - Fri, 05/09/2014 - 11:00
Lamont's Lynn Sykes on a Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommendation that the reactors at Indian Point be reassessed for earthquake risk.

The New World

Geopoetry - Fri, 05/09/2014 - 09:24
Archaeological expedition in the Peruvian Andes (Kurt Rademaker, University of Maine at Orono).

Archaeological expedition in the Peruvian Andes (Kurt Rademaker, University of Maine at Orono).

 

On a man in the mountains, dusk falls;

Shadows seep upward and spread.

Scaling the black, chiseled walls,

He silently seeks the dead.

 

The Andes, sharp spine of Peru,

Shelter small secrets of stone.

That night, an ancient milieu:

Obsidian, jasper, bone.

 

Into deep history, peer:

Sharp edges of tools, human craft!

Adventurous people lived here,

Climbed, feasted, laughed.

 

Archaeological expedition in the Peruvian Andes (Kurt Rademaker, UMaine)

Archaeological expedition in the Peruvian Andes (Kurt Rademaker, UMaine)

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Further reading:

Science-2014-Gibbons-567-8 (pdf)

“New Sites Bring the Earliest Americans Out of the Shadows,” Ann Gibbons, Science, 2014

This is one in a series of poems based on science news, written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

The Woman Who Made the First True Map of the Earth - Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Featured News - Sun, 05/04/2014 - 11:00
Features the work of the late Lamont scientist Marie Tharp to map earth's ocean floor.

National Academy Elects Three Columbia Faculty Members - Columbia Record

Featured News - Fri, 05/02/2014 - 12:03
Lamont geologist Peter Kelemen is one of three Columbia University faculty members elected this year to the National Academy of Sciences.

Watch Seismic Waves of 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake Roll Through State - LiveScience

Featured News - Fri, 05/02/2014 - 11:00
New research by Lamont's Meredith Nettles confirms that Alaska's 1964 earthquake was the second-largest recorded, at magnitude 9.4.

The Breathing Ocean

Geopoetry - Fri, 05/02/2014 - 10:10
 Jaccard et al. (2013) Science

Image: Jaccard et al. (2013) Science

Far south and farther south, where winds are cold and screaming,
Waters churn, and deep below, old sediments lie dreaming.
A million years’ residuum of life and death and dust,
A library of ice ages reposed upon Earth’s crust.
Very finely teased apart, this elemental tale,
On barium and opal deep into the past we sail.
With all the evidence aligned, a pattern brightly blazes:
Descent into an ice age world proceeds in two key phases.
An orchestra with many players ‘tween warm-cold inflecting;
Tiny cells, abyssal flow, great winds … now, who’s directing?

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Further reading:

Two Modes of Change in Southern Ocean Productivity Over the Past Million Years, Jaccard, Hayes et al., Science, 2013

This is one in a series of poems based on science news, written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “The Breathing Ocean” first appeared on Allen’s website on March 22, 2013.

Study Links Wastewater Injection, 2011 Oklahoma Ouake - Associated Press

Featured News - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 11:00
A new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research coauthored by Lamont's Geoff Abers explores why relatively small wastewater injections may have led to a relatively big, magnitude 5.7 earthquake near Prague, Oklahoma in 2011.

Hell’s Chicken

Geopoetry - Fri, 04/25/2014 - 09:00
 Mark Klingler/Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The dinosaur Anzu wyliei. Illustration: Mark Klingler/Carnegie Museum of Natural History

From our great, wild west, those rusty, dusty hills,
Bones of a beast who would give a cowboy chills.
A fierce-looking crest – a mohawk made of bone!
Claws, beak, bony tail, locked within hard stone.
Heavy as a tiger, scary yet absurd;
Anzu, feathered giant: a dino, not-quite-bird.
Mysterious, its habits – egg-eaters? A chance.
But this terrifying creature may have also eaten plants.
We piece together dreams of the verdant late Cretaceous,
Shards, broken clues from the patient and tenacious.
How I wish I could’ve seen this dinosaur humungous;
I guess I’ll have to settle for their relatives among us!

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NVO

© Wikipedia:NVO

A New Large-Bodied Oviraptorosaurian Theropod Dinosaur from the Latest Cretaceous of Western North America, PLoS One, 3/19/14

Dinosaur dubbed ‘chicken from hell’ was armed and dangerous, The Guardian, 3/19/14

National Geographic, 3/19/14

Huffington Post, 3/19/14

This is one in a series of poems based on science news, written by Katherine Allen, a researcher in geochemistry and paleoclimate at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. You can read more on Allen’s website.

Earthquakes and the Texas Miracle - Dallas Magazine

Featured News - Thu, 04/24/2014 - 11:00
Work by Lamont's John Armbruster and colleagues that have linked earthquakes to underground fluid injection cited.

Water Utility Denies Presence of Arsenic - Vietnam News

Featured News - Thu, 04/24/2014 - 09:06
A 2013 study led by Lamont's Lex van Geen found that arsenic had leached its way into a major drinking-water aquifer servicing Hanoi.

Carbon Capture Faces Hurdles of Will, Not Technology - Climate Central

Featured News - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 08:56
A price on carbon is needed before capture and storage of CO2 becomes a viable option, says Lamont's Peter Kelemen.
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