News and Events

  • October 11, 2016

    Twenty-three million years ago, the Antarctic Ice Sheet began to shrink, going from an expanse larger than today’s to one about half its modern size. Computer models suggested a spike in carbon dioxide levels as the cause, but the evidence was elusive – until now. Ancient fossilized leaves retrieved from a lake bed in New Zealand now show for the first time that carbon dioxide levels increased dramatically over a relatively short period of time as the ice sheet began to deteriorate. The findings raise new questions about the stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet today as atmospheric CO2 concentrations rise to levels never before experienced by humans.

  • October 10, 2016

    A new study says that human-induced climate change has doubled the area affected by forest fires in the U.S. West over the last 30 years. According to the study, since 1984 heightened temperatures and resulting aridity have caused fires to spread across an additional 16,000 square miles than they otherwise would have—an area larger than the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. The authors warn that further warming will increase fire exponentially in coming decades.

  • October 10, 2016

    Thousands of visitors toured the labs and crowded around science demonstrations on Saturday at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Open House 2016, a day of hands-on experiments and conversations with some of the world’s leading scientists in the Earth, environmental, and climate sciences.

  • October 05, 2016

    As the American Southwest grows hotter, the risk of severe, long-lasting megadroughts rises, passing 90 percent likelihood by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current pace, a new study says. If we aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, however, we can cut that risk substantially, the authors write.

  • October 03, 2016

    Letters of recommendation – critical to young scientists’ chances of being hired for postdoctoral research positions – may be disadvantaging women from the very start of their careers, and the professors writing those letters may not realize it, a new study suggests.

  • September 27, 2016

    The high school students who spend their summers in the Secondary School Field Research Program (SSFRP) at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are quick to praise Program Director Bob Newton for being a pillar of support who has built their confidence, given them opportunities to hone their leadership skills, and helped them feel at home discussing research with some of the world’s leading scientists.

  • September 23, 2016

    When an earthquake strikes, it sends waves of energy ringing through the interior of the planet. The waves are too slow for us to hear in their original state, but speed them up and the earthquake’s global impact comes to life. A group of scientists and sound artists working with the Seismic Sound Lab at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are turning seismic waves into sound and images for an eye-opening educational performance about earthquakes and what seismic waves can tell us about our planet. You can see, hear and feel seismic data from enormous earthquakes, witness the patterns of decades of earthquakes in minutes, and see the seismic effect of ocean storms, including Hurricane Sandy, all as though you were inside the planet.

  • September 21, 2016

    Along the walls of Oceanographer Canyon, fish dart in and out of colorful anemone gardens and sea creatures send up plumes of sand and mud as they burrow. Bill Ryan, an oceanographer at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, watched the scenes through the windows of a mini research submarine in 1978 as he became one of the few people to explore the seafloor canyons that President Obama has now designated a national monument.

  • September 13, 2016

    Gaze into the viewing screen of an electron microscope, and you slip into a world of living geometry, where the plates surrounding a tiny coccolithophore become an intricately armored sphere and the spikes of a radiolarian look like daggers. Dee Breger took us into that world through her photographs of objects too small to see with the human eye.

  • September 09, 2016

    Seismologist Won-Young Kim heard the first reports of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center as he drove to his job at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. From his office on the west bank of the Hudson River, 21 miles north of lower Manhattan, Kim runs a network of seismic instruments that monitors the U.S. Northeast for earthquakes. When he got to work, everyone was glued to the radio. Soon, he was inundated by calls from government officials and reporters. In the initial chaos, it was unclear exactly what had hit, and when; had the seismographs picked up anything?

  • September 06, 2016

    The raw materials of some volcanic islands are shaped by some of the same processes that form diamonds deep under the continents, according to a new study. The study asserts that material from diamond-forming regions journeys nearly to earth’s core and back up to form such islands, a process that could take two and a half billion years or longer – more than half of earth’s entire history. The research challenges some prevailing notions about the workings of the deep earth, and their connections to the surface.

  • September 01, 2016

    This past July was Earth’s hottest month since record keeping began, but warming isn’t the only danger climate change holds in store. Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the simultaneous occurrence of extremely cold winter days in the Eastern United States and extremely warm winter days in the Western U.S., according to a new study. Human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases are likely driving this trend, the study finds.

  • August 31, 2016

    Lamont's Andy Juhl and a team of scientists working with the non-profit Riverkeeper conducted an unprecedented health check of the entire Hudson River system, starting at the headwaters high in the Adirondacks and going all the way to New York Harbor, where the river meets the ocean. They released their results today, giving the 315-mile-long Hudson River a spotty but mostly positive health report with some important insights.

  • August 31, 2016

    The ocean plays a vital role in Earth’s climate system, shaping weather and climate on land. Lamont's Ryan Abernathey and Richard Seager are studying how changes in the ocean cause sea surface temperature to vary, and how these anomalies drive changes in atmospheric circulation to create extreme weather events.

  • August 24, 2016

    In a new study, Lamont's Michael Previdi and Lorenzo Polvani found that the effect of rising temperatures on snowfall in Antarctica has so far been overshadowed by the frozen continent's large natural climate variability. By mid-century, however, as temperatures continue to rise, the effect of human-induced warming on Antarctica's net snow accumulation should emerge above the noise, and the increase in snowfall could begin to help partially offset sea level rise.

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