News and Events

  • 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.

  • November 11, 2015

    Much of the modern understanding of climate change is underpinned by pioneering studies done at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Starting in the 1950s and continuing today, researchers at sea, on land and in the lab have worked in disciplines including oceanography, atmospheric physics, magnetism, geochemistry, glacial geology, paleontology, tree-ring studies and more.

  • November 06, 2015

    The long history of severe droughts across Europe and the Mediterranean has largely been told through historical documents and ancient journals, each chronicling the impact in a geographically restricted area. Now, for the first time, an atlas based on scientific evidence provides the big picture, using tree rings to map the reach and severity of dry and wet periods across Europe and parts of North Africa and the Middle East year-by-year over the past 2,000 years.

  • October 23, 2015

    Hurricane Patricia intensified incredibly rapidly as it approached the Mexico coast on Oct. 23, exploding from a tropical storm with wind speeds of 63 mph to a Category 5 hurricane with wind speeds over 160 mph only 24 hours later, and it continued to strengthen, reaching 200 mph. While most of the models predicted strengthening, they all underestimated how quickly and how strong the wind speeds would become.

  • October 20, 2015

    The global overturning circulation of the ocean plays a fundamental role in our climate by redistributing some of the excess heat accumulated around the Equator. The coldest deep waters of the global circulation are created in localized regions near the poles. How these deep waters return to shallower depths through vertical mixing is still not, as yet, fully understood.

  • October 15, 2015

    A new study in Science questions the provocative idea that climate change may shape the texture of the sea floor. Lamont's Jean-Arthur Olive and his co-authors argue that the fabric of the sea floor is better explained by faults that form, offsetting the crust as the plates pull apart. Their paper is the first to explain the characteristic spacing of abyssal hills quantitatively as a function of seafloor spreading rate within a single theoretical framework.

  • October 15, 2015

    The Research Vessel Marcus G. Langseth, operated by Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, sails the world exploring oceans and probing the sea floor and the layers deep beneath it. A new video produced by Columbia University takes a tour of the Langseth and talks to the scientists who work on its decks collecting data.

  • October 13, 2015

    Nicolás Young was just named a winner of a 2015 Blavatnik Award for his work measuring ice sheets in changing climates of the past and their contribution to sea level rise. His new projects are taking glacier tracking to the next level.

  • October 12, 2015

    Tiny microbes called phytoplankton are churning away in the oceans, taking in carbon dioxide and producing the oxygen we breathe. Scientists recognize their value, but many questions remain about what will happen to their productivity as the oceans warm, carbon dioxide levels rise, and the nutrients they rely on become scarce. A new study explores those questions using a mix of techniques from genomics and oceanography and a newly created database of millions of phytoplankton RNA strands contributed by scientists from labs around the world.

  • October 12, 2015

    A new study has found that powerful winds are removing massive amounts of snow from parts of Antarctica, potentially boosting estimates of how much the continent might contribute to sea level. Up to now, scientists had thought that most snow scoured from parts of the continent was simply redeposited elsewhere on the surface. However, the new study shows that in certain parts, called scour zones, some 90 percent—an estimated 80 billion tons per yearis instead being vaporized, and removed altogether.