News and Events

  • February 14, 2017

    Aaron Putnam sits atop a boulder high in the Sierras of central California, banging away with hammer and chisel to chip out a sample of ice age history. Each hunk of rock is a piece of a vast puzzle: How did our climate system behave the last time it warmed up like it’s doing today?

  • February 09, 2017

    A new Indonesian coral-based record of surface ocean salinity shows that the location of the most significant hydroclimatic feature in the Southern Hemisphere, the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ), a band of high clouds and precipitation, influences a major current in the far western Pacific Ocean.

  • February 06, 2017

    The annual summer monsoon that drops rain onto East Asia, an area with about a billion people, has shifted dramatically in the distant past, at times moving northward by as much as 400 kilometers and doubling rainfall in that northern reach. The monsoon’s changes over the past 10,000 years likely altered the course of early human cultures in China, say the authors of a new study.

  • February 02, 2017

    More than 85 percent of the ocean floor remains unmapped, leaving us in the dark about much of the earth’s topography. A global, non-profit effort will try to remedy that by 2030. The effort will affect everything from climate research and weather prediction to mineral resource exploration and fisheries.

  • February 02, 2017

    Many giant shelves of ice hanging off Antarctica into the Southern Ocean are now melting rapidly. But up to now, it has been a mystery why much of the resulting fresh water ends up in the depths instead of floating above saltier, denser ocean waters. Scientists working along one major ice shelf believe they have found the answer: earth’s rotation is pushing meltwater sideways as it bleed off the ice, preventing it from reaching the surface. The finding has implications for how ocean circulation may affect the planet’s future climate. The research was published this week in the journal Nature.

  • January 24, 2017

    Two scientists who untangled the complex forces that drive El Niño, the world’s most powerful weather cycle, have won the 2017 Vetlesen Prize for achievement in earth sciences. The $250,000 award will go to S. George Philander of Princeton University and Mark A. Cane of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The men laid out the cyclic interaction of winds and currents that sweep the tropical Pacific Ocean every two to seven years, affecting weather across the world. Their work led to practical forecasts of such swings; institutions worldwide now monitor warning signs to help prepare for crop planting, disease control, and floods or droughts.

  • January 19, 2017

    Researchers studying the West Antarctic Peninsula marine ecosystem will recognize President Obama’s efforts to combat global warming by collecting climate data at an oceanographic station they named for the 44th president.

  • January 18, 2017

    Rainfall patterns in the Sahara during the six-thousand-year “Green Sahara” period have been revealed by analyzing marine sediments, according to new research.

    What is now the Sahara Desert was the home to hunter-gathers who made their living off the animals and plants that lived in the region’s savannahs and wooded grasslands 5,000 to 11,000 years ago.

  • January 17, 2017

    Natural disasters have caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide with associated costs of hundreds of billions of dollars in property damage. Providing timely warnings of damaging ground-shaking from earthquakes and the imminent arrival of tsunamis is an ongoing challenge. Networks of instruments developed in recent years by researchers at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and elsewhere have improved our ability to provide those predictions for vulnerable populations. A new pilot program led by Lamont aims to make those warnings earlier and more accurate.

  • January 05, 2017

    When summer temperatures rise in Greenland and the melt season begins, water pools on the surface, and sometimes disappears down holes in the ice. That water may eventually reach bedrock, creating a slipperier, faster slide for glaciers. But where does it go once it gets there, and what happens to it in the winter? A new study helps answer these questions.

  • January 01, 2017

    Across the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory campus, scientists are exploring undersea volcanoes, monitoring coastal erosion along hard-to-reach shorelines, and studying the movement of sea ice – all in real time. By loading drones with high-tech instruments and using satellites and undersea cables that are interacting with sensors in some of the most remote locations on Earth, they are uncovering the secrets of our planet.

  • December 15, 2016

    When a fault slips, the temperature can spike by hundreds of degrees, high enough to alter organic compounds in the rocks and leave a signature. A team of scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has been developing methods to use those organic signatures to reconstruct past earthquakes and explore where those earthquakes started and stopped and how they moved through the fault zone. The information could eventually help scientists better understand what controls earthquakes.

  • December 14, 2016

    Off the coast of New Zealand, there is an area where earthquakes happen in slow-motion as two tectonic plates grind past one another. Unlike typical earthquakes that rupture over seconds, these slow-slip events take more than a week, creating an ideal lab for studying fault behavior along the shallow portion of a subduction zone.

  • December 13, 2016

    The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, and scientists are seeing the effects across ice and ecosystems. The average annual air temperature over Arctic land is now 3.5°C (6.5°F) warmer than it was 1900, Greenland is experiencing longer melting seasons, and this year’s spring snow cover extent set a record low in the North American Arctic, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s newly released 2016 Arctic Report Card.

  • December 13, 2016

    Most research databases are narrowly focused. They might contain only seismic data from earthquakes, for example, or chemical data from volcanic rocks. The Interdisciplinary Earth Data Alliance (IEDA)set out to create a different kind of research experience, and the result is fueling groundbreaking multi-disciplinary discoveries worldwide.

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