News and Events

  • June 09, 2016

    Following record-high temperatures and melting records in northwest Greenland in summer 2015, a new study provides the first evidence linking melting in Greenland to the anticipated effects of a phenomenon known as Artic amplification.

  • June 08, 2016

    Who were our earliest ancestors? How and when did they evolve into modern humans? And how do we define “human,” anyway? Was it when some long-ago ancestor stood and walked; grew a brain of a certain size; or figured out how to make stone tools, control fire, plant crops or brew beer? The possible answers to such questions are themselves evolving, as anthropologists and archaeologists including Lamont's Chris Lepre continually discover new fossils and artifacts that upset old theories and push the known dates of evolutionary milestones back ever further into the past.

  • June 06, 2016

    To understand how quickly ice from glaciers can raise sea level or how moons far across the solar system evolved to hold vast, ice-covered oceans, we need to be able to measure the forces at work. A new instrument designed and built at Lamont's Rock and Ice Mechanics Lab with seed funding from a special innovation fund and support from NASA does just that.

  • June 06, 2016

    Buried deep in seabed sediments off east Africa, scientists have uncovered a 24-million-year record of vegetation trends in the region where humans evolved. The authors say the record lends weight to the idea that we developed key traits—flexible diets, large brains, complex social structures and the ability to walk and run on two legs—while adapting to the spread of open grasslands. The study appears today in a special human-evolution issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • May 30, 2016

    Scientists working in the Gulf of Mexico have found that contaminants from the massive 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill lingered in the subsurface water for months after oil on the surface had been swept up or dispersed. In a new study led by Lamont's Beizhan Yan, they detail how remnants of the oil, black carbon from burning oil slicks and contaminants from drilling mud combined with microscopic algae and other marine debris to descend in a “dirty blizzard” to the seafloor.

  • May 24, 2016

    The plate tectonics revolution was a data revolution. The young scientists who led the charge 50 years ago showed how asking the right questions and having access to a wide range of data could open doors to an entirely new understanding of the planet. This week, those scientists and the generations they inspired are meeting at Lamont to look back on their discoveries and to discuss the scientific developments over the decades since that continue to build our understanding of the behavior of Earth’s tectonic plates.

  • May 19, 2016

    The field of paleoceanography emerged in the middle of the last century as scientists began collecting large numbers of deep-sea sediment cores and figuring out how to date the layers that had recorded Earth’s climate history. John Imbrie was one of its pioneers.

  • May 17, 2016

    On a ledge just inside the lip of Chile’s Quizapu volcanic crater, Philipp Ruprecht was furiously digging a trench. Here at an elevation of 10,000 feet, a 1,000-foot plunge loomed just yards away, and wind was whipping dust off his shovel. But the volcanologist was excited. Ruprecht had just found this spot, topped with undisturbed wedding-cake layers of fine, black material that the crater had vomited from the deep earth some 84 years ago. Samples from the currently inactive site might shed light on its exceedingly violent behavior.

  • May 16, 2016

    Over the past half-million years, the equatorial Pacific Ocean has seen five spikes in the amount of iron-laden dust blown in from the continents. In theory, those bursts should have turbo-charged the growth of the ocean’s carbon-capturing algae­ – algae need iron to grow – but a new study led by Lamont Gisela Winckler shows that the excess iron had little to no effect. The results are important today, because as groups search for ways to combat climate change, some are exploring fertilizing the oceans with iron as a solution.

  • May 04, 2016

    One of Earth’s newest islands exploded into view from the bottom of the southwest Pacific Ocean in January 2015. Lamont scientist Vicki Ferrini, who uses geophysical mapping techniques to study the seafloor, was sailing through the area on an unrelated research cruise and created a detailed map of the new island's topography.

  • May 04, 2016

    Is it an album cover for a 1980s hair band, or a thin section micrograph of precious minerals? A model of ice streams in glacial lakes, or a 3D laser light show from a dance club? This past week at the third annual Research as Art exhibit at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, scientists traded in lab coats and goggles for artist smocks and easels as they demonstrated that when the line between science and art is allowed to get tenuous, the results are anything but.

  • May 03, 2016

    Maureen Raymo, a marine geologist and paleoceanographer whose name is connected with key theories about how ice ages wax and wane and how sea levels change, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors awarded to engineers and scientists in the United States. She is the 11th current scientist from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory invited to join the Academy for their excellence in original scientific work.

  • April 25, 2016

    In southern Greenland in summer, rivers have been streaming off the ice sheet, pouring cold fresh water into the fjords. Attention has focused on the West Coast, where the majority of the meltwater has been entering the ocean in recent years, but a new study from Lamont's Marco Tedesco suggests that a greater risk to global climate may actually be coming from the East.

  • April 20, 2016

    A new statistical method inspired by economics is helping scientists identify old volcanic eruptions through temperature changes in a consistent, automated way. In addition to helping separate volcanic impacts on climate from random climate variability, the new method has a wide range of policy applications.

  • April 19, 2016

    Fifty years ago, a graduate student named Walter Pitman made a discovery that would change the way we see our planet. It was late at night, and Pitman was reviewing charts of ship data that had just come off the computer. What Pitman saw in those lines confirmed the theories behind seafloor spreading and set the stage for our understanding of plate tectonics.

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