Buried below more than a mile of ice, Antarctica’s Gamburtsev Mountains have baffled scientists since their discovery in 1958. How did the mountains get there, and what role did they play in the spread of glaciers over the continent 30 million years ago? In the latest study on the mountains, scientists this week in the journal Nature say they have pieced together the puzzle of the origins and evolution of this mysterious mountain chain.
News and Events
November 16, 2011
November 11, 2011
“I was deeply saddened by the loss of one of our most beautiful trees on campus during the last storm. It had perfect symmetry and such a beautiful color display late in the fall,” wrote geochemist Martin Stute, after a highly unusual heavy October snow felled a 22-year-old Bradford pear at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, where he works. The tree had stood since 1989 in front of the Seismology/Marine Biology building–for many, a shady regular lunch spot, and stately natural contrast to the squat, corrugated-metal architecture of the human structure behind it. Stute emailed Lamont colleagues his brief eulogy, with an attached picture of the tree in happier days. Dozens replied.
November 10, 2011Evergreen trees at the edge of Alaska’s tundra are growing faster, suggesting that at least some forests may be adapting to a rapidly warming climate, says a new study.
October 26, 2011
The retreat of Antarctica’s fast-flowing Thwaites Glacier is expected to speed up within 20 years, once the glacier detaches from an underwater ridge that is currently holding it back, says a new study in Geophysical Research Letters.
Thwaites Glacier, which drains into west Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea, is being closely watched for its potential to raise global sea levels as the planet warms. Neighboring glaciers in the Amundsen region are also thinning rapidly, including Pine Island Glacier and the much larger Getz Ice Shelf. The study is the latest to confirm the importance of seafloor topography in predicting how these glaciers will behave in the near future.
October 24, 2011Modern society is awash in data. By one estimate, as much information today is created in 48 hours as was produced in the last 30,000 years. The challenge now is making all those megabytes public.
October 18, 2011
A major new international prize for public communication on climate-change issues has been awarded to Gavin Schmidt of the Earth Institute-affiliated NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
October 10, 2011
Study has shown that deep sediments can grab the arsenic and take it out of circulation—a finding that may help to keep wells safe elsewhere, including in the United States. The study, led by researchers at Columbia University’s Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, appears in the current online edition of the journal.
October 07, 2011
The Hudson River that explorer Henry Hudson sailed some 400 years ago had no power plants on its shores. No trains, bridges, factories or houses. Those innovations changed the river, leaving a legacy of PCBs, sewage and other pollutants. But pollution is just one way that humans have transformed the river. A small way, it turns out.
October 03, 2011
After less than a month in operation, a new NASA satellite has produced the first map showing how saltiness varies across the surface of the world’s oceans. Until now, salt measurements came only from ships, moorings and buoys floating at sea; NASA says its Aquarius satellite will capture in three years as much data as those earlier methods did in 125 years.
September 27, 2011
As it moves across the Indian Ocean, the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) can bring torrential rains to California and add power to hurricanes forming in the Gulf of Mexico. Yet after 30 years of studying this cyclical weather pattern scientists are no closer to understanding how it works.
September 15, 2011
The seas are rising, as they have during past periods of warming in earth’s history. Estimates of how high they will go in the next few thousand years range from five meters, putting greater Miami underwater, to 40 meters, wiping most of Florida off the map. “The range of estimates is huge to the point of meaninglessness,” says
, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
September 14, 2011
Readers can follow a New York Times blog from the arctic as the U.S. flagship vessel for charting geology under the seabed sails the Chukchi Sea, north of Alaska and Siberia. By sending sound pulses to the seabed and reading the echoes, scientists conducting the Chukchi Edges project aboard the Marcus G. Langseth hope to understand the structure and history of the continental shelves running underwater off Asia and North America, and the Chukchi Borderland, an adjoing region of dramatic deep-sea plateaus and ridges some 800 miles from the North Pole.
September 13, 2011
The frigid seabottom off Antarctica holds a surprising riot of life: colorful carpets of sponges, starfish, sea cucumbers and many other soft, bottom-dwelling animals,shown on images from robotic submarines. Now, it appears that many such communities could fast disappear, due to warming climate.
September 12, 2011
Under the shopping malls and highways of suburbia, there might one day be a partial fix for global warming. Since August, engineers have been drilling just west of the Tappan Zee Bridge to collect samples of rock from the Newark Basin, an ancient rock formation stretching beneath New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
August 31, 2011
A new study suggests that Homo erectus, a precursor to modern humans, was using advanced tool-making methods in East Africa 1.8 million years ago, at least 300,000 years earlier than previously thought. The study, published this week in Nature, raises new questions about where these tall and slender early humans originated and how they developed sophisticated tool-making technology.