News and Events

  • January 22, 2016

    As the second most recent ice age was ending and its glaciers began to retreat, the Earth experienced a large, abrupt climate change that shifted the thermal equator southward by about 4 degrees, according to a new study that for the first time tracks that shift in millennial detail, showing how the Northern Hemisphere cooled and the Southern Hemisphere warmed over the span of a few hundred years. The change would have affected the monsoons, today relied on to feed more than half the world’s population, and could have helped tip the climate system over the threshold for deglaciation, said lead author Allison Jacobel.

  • January 07, 2016

    The bottom of the ocean just keeps getting better. Or at least more interesting to look at. In an ongoing project, mappers at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have been gathering data from hundreds of research cruises and turning it all into accessible maps of the ocean floor with resolutions down to 25 meters.

  • December 18, 2015

    Over the last six years, seismologists Göran Ekström and Colin Stark have been perfecting a technique for picking out the seismic signature of large landslides from the stream of seismic data from earthquakes and other activity around the world. The details they are able to extract could one day help governments sound tsunami warnings, help rescuers find landslide-struck villages faster, and warn of risks such as landslide-dammed rivers that could soon burst through.

  • December 15, 2015

    Why does sea level change at different rates? How has it changed in the past? Who will be at risk from more extreme weather and sea level rise in the future? Our scientists often hear questions like these. To help share the answers more widely, we created a new app that lets users explore a series of maps of the planet, from the deepest trenches in the oceans to the ice at the poles. You can see how ice, the oceans, precipitation and temperatures have changed over time and listen as scientists explain what you’re seeing and why.

  • December 15, 2015

    Understanding how lava flows is critical when homes and roads are in a lava flow’s path. A community may have a day to evacuate, or its residents may have a week or more, with enough time to move what they can to safer ground.

  • December 09, 2015

    As excess carbon dioxide is absorbed into the oceans, it is starting to have profound effects on marine life, from oysters to tiny snails at the base of the food chain.

  • December 04, 2015

    A new study questions the popular notion that 10th-century Norse people were able to colonize Greenland because of a period of unusually warm weather. Based upon signs left by old glaciers, researchers say the climate was already cold when the Norse arrived—and that climate thus probably played little role in their mysterious demise some 400 years later. On a larger scale, the study adds to building evidence that the so-called Medieval Warm Period, when Europe enjoyed exceptionally clement weather, did not necessarily extend to other parts of the world.

  • December 04, 2015

    Over the last century, glaciers in Greenland have been retreating quickly – at a rate at least twice as fast as any other time in the past 9,500 years, according to a new study. The study also provides new evidence for just how sensitive glaciers are to temperature changes, showing that they responded to abrupt and even short-lived cooling and warming in the past that lasted decades to centuries.

  • November 24, 2015

    When the most recent eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano started last June, Melvin Sugimoto at first did not think much of it. Hawaii, where he has lived all his life, is made entirely of hardened lava, and Kilauea, perhaps the world’s most active volcano, has been adding more off and on for the last 300,000 years. “Lava is everywhere, but I never thought in a million years it would come through here,” said Sugimoto, who lives in the small town of Pahoa.

  • November 24, 2015

    The fate of the ice sheets has a direct impact on populations worldwide: as the land-based ice melts, it raises sea level, and that can threaten coastal communities and economies.

  • November 24, 2015

    Earth’s magnetic field has been getting weaker, leading some scientists to think that it might be about to flip, but the field may simply be coming down from an abnormally high intensity rather than approaching a reversal, scientists write in a new paper published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • November 20, 2015

    A snapshot of the changing climate of the West Antarctica Peninsula, where the impact of fast-rising temperatures provides clues about future ecosystem changes elsewhere.

  • November 19, 2015

    The Indonesian peat fires that have been choking cities across Southeast Asia with a yellow haze are creating more than a local menace—the burning peat releases immense stores of CO2, contributing to global warming, writes Jonathan Nichols.

  • November 16, 2015

    Rarely a day goes by without earthquakes shaking the Alaska Peninsula, a string of volcanoes curving off the Alaska mainland into the Pacific. Just off shore, two tectonic plates are converging: The Pacific plate is bending under the North American plate and pushing deep into the Earth. Along this subduction zone, scientists have noticed something unusual. Two adjacent sections that appear almost identical in large-scale characteristics—temperature, angle of subduction, age of the rocks—are exhibiting very different earthquake behaviors over short spans of just tens of kilometers. One section is highly active with small earthquakes; the other is more quiet but has large earthquakes every 50 to 75 years. To get a closer look, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory’s research ship, the R/V Marcus G. Langseth, ran seismic surveys to map the ocean floor and the earth beneath it.

  • November 12, 2015

    Gradual melting of winter snow helps feed water to farms, cities and ecosystems across much of the world, but this resource may soon be critically imperiled. In a new study, scientists have identified snow-dependent drainage basins across the northern hemisphere currently serving 2 billion people that run the risk of declining supplies in the coming century. The basins take in large parts of the American West, southern Europe, the Mideast and central Asia. They range from productive U.S. farm land to war-torn regions already in the grip of long-term water shortages.

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