The Argon Geochronology for the Earth Sciences (AGES) lab is located at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory along the Palisades Parkway in Rockland County, New York. Our lab measures Argon isotope compositions and concentrations, mainly of single mineral grains, on a VG5400 noble gas mass spectrometer to determine the age of mineral formation. Our research subjects include paleocllmate provenance studies, volcanoes and deep earth time.
Centers, Projects & Initiatives
The Thermo Scientific Triton is LDEO's only thermal ionization mass spectrometer with negative ion capabilities.
A detailed (ca. 100 yr resolution) and well-dated (31 AMS 14C dates to 24 cal.
Tree-Ring Lab (TRL) scientists are dedicated to expanding the use and application of tree-ring research around the world to improve our understanding of past climate and environmental history. Current research concentrates on the use of tree-ring data networks to study regional climate, global climate teleconnections and anthropogenic impacts on forest growth.
Exploring new species in new regions, building collaborations around the world, and developing new quantitative techniques, TRL researchers are committed to advancing dendrochronology and paleoclimatology, as well as the ethic of good science
Describes global research using vegetation shifts to reconstruct local and regional changes in the landscape due to climate and/or anthropogenic influence.
Research led by Richard Seager describes a modeling and paleoclimate perspective on the causes of North American droughts.
Members of our group work on a variety of projects including studies of water movement in natural systems (ocean, groundwater), reconstruction of continental paleotemperature records using aquifers
The Lamont-Doherty Core Repository is both an archive of sediment (some terrestrial), rocks and coral from beneath the ocean floor, and an archive of the digital data pertaining to the material. They are used for research in climate, environment, many other studies, and for education.
Please click below to be taken directly to the Repository site.
The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Data Portal provides access to geoscience data, primarily marine, from the Antarctic region.
Environmental hypotheses of African faunal evolution propose that major faunal speciation, extinction, and innovation events during the Pliocene-Pleistocene were mediated by changes in Africa
GEOTRACES is an international study of the global marine biogeochemical cycles of trace elements and their isotopes. Its mission is:
|Name||Title||Fields of interest|
|Jason E. Smerdon||Lamont Associate Research Professor||Common-Era Paleoclimatology, Climate Modeling, Statistical Climatology, Climate Variability and Change|
|Wallace S. Broecker||Newberry Professor||Role of the oceans in climate change using isotopes.|
|Nathan Steiger||Postdoctoral Research Fellow|
|Jacob Scheff||Postdoctoral Research Scientist|
|Kelsey Dyez||Postdoctoral Research Fellow||Paleoclimate, Geochemistry, Carbon Cycle|
|Heather L. Ford||Postdoctoral Research Scientist|
|Laura Haynes||Graduate Student||paleoceanography, paleoclimatology, proxy development|
|Logan Brenner||Graduate Research Fellow|
|Aaron Putnam||Adjunct Associate Research Scientist|
|Allison Jacobel||Graduate Student||Paleoclimatology, paleoceanography, isotope geochemistry|
|Pratigya Polissar||Lamont Associate Research Professor|
|Paolo Montagna||Visiting Associate Research Scientist||Development of geochemical proxies in coral skeletons for paleoclimate reconstructions|
|Christopher Hayes||Graduate Research Assistant||Chemical oceanography, trace metals, paleoclimatology|
|Jennifer Cole||Adjunct Associate Research Scientist||geochronology, paleoclimatology, human evolution|
|Elizabeth Pierce||Senior Staff Associate||Sediment provenance, paleoclimate|
|Alexander Van Geen||Lamont Research Professor||Geochemistry|
|Gisela Winckler||Lamont Research Professor||Marine geochemistry, Paleoclimatology, Paleoceanography, Tracer oceanography, dust, paleoclimate|
|Nicole K. Davi||Adjunct Associate Research Scientist||Paleoclimatology, Drought and Hydrometeorological Reconstructions, Climate Change, Dendrochronology, Science Education & Outreach, Paleoarchaeology, Sustainability, Climate Risk Management|
|Michael Kaplan||Lamont Associate Research Professor||Glacial geology, paleoclimatology, glacier and ice sheet dynamics, geomorphology, geochronology, limnogeology, cosmogenic surface exposure dating|
|Kevin Anchukaitis||Adjunct Associate Research Scientist||paleoclimatology, dendroclimatology, tropical dendrochronology, stable isotope biogeochemistry, climate field reconstruction and statistics, forward modeling|
|Bärbel Hönisch||Associate Professor||Paleoclimatology, Paleoceanography, Biological Oceanography|
|Brent Goehring||Postdoctoral Research Scientist||Surface Exposure Dating, Glacial Geology, Paleoclimatology, Tectonic Geomorphology and Paleoseismology|
|Ronny Friedrich||Senior Staff Associate||Noble gases, groundwater, paleoclimate, mass spectrometry, vacuum, cryogenic physics, data acquisition, database design, software development (LabView)|
|Dennis V. Kent||Adjunct Senior Research Scientist||Paleomagnetism, geomagnetism and rock magnetism, and their application to geologic problems. Current interests include Cenozoic and Mesozoic geomagnetic polarity time scales; carbon cycle and paleoclimatology, paleogeography and tectonics of the Pangea supercontinent; paleofield intensity variations; and magnetic properties of sediments, oceanic basalts, and polar ice.|
|Gordon C. Jacoby||Special Research Scientist|
|Rosanne D'Arrigo||Lamont Research Professor|
|Ramona Lotti||Staff Associate|
|Alexey Kaplan||Lamont Associate Research Professor||Analyses of climate fields based on historical, instrumental and paleoclimatic data; El Nino and Southern Oscillation; ocean data assimilation; statistical studies of climate variability from observations and models|
June 30, 2016There was a period during the last ice age when temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere went on a rollercoaster ride, plummeting and then rising again every 1,500 years or so. Those abrupt climate changes wreaked havoc on ecosystems, but their cause has been something of a mystery. New evidence published this week in the leading journal Science shows for the first time that the ocean’s overturning circulation slowed during every one of those temperature plunges – at times almost stopping.
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.
March 21, 2016
In much of France and Switzerland, the best wine years are traditionally those with abundant spring rains followed by an exceptionally hot summer and late-season drought. This drives vines to put forth robust, fast-maturing fruit, and brings an early harvest. Now, a new study shows that warming climate has largely removed the drought factor from the centuries-old early-harvest equation. It is only the latest symptom that global warming is affecting biological systems and agriculture.
March 01, 2016
In the years before the Syrian conflict erupted, the region’s worst drought on record set in across the Levant, destroying crops and restricting water supplies in the already water-stressed region. A new study shows that that drought, from 1998-2012, wasn’t just the most severe in a century of record-keeping—it was the Levant’s most severe drought in at least 500 years and likely more than 900 years.
January 28, 2016
In an effort led by current and former Lamont Tree Ring Lab scientists, the N-TREND consortium (Northern Tree-Ring Network Development) was created to develop a global database of tree-ring research that improves on efforts for developing large-scale temperature reconstructions across the Northern Hemisphere.
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.
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.
October 09, 2015
A new study finds that the Horn of Africa has become progressively drier over the past century and that it is drying at a rate that is both unusual in the context of the past 2,000 years and in step with human-influenced warming. The study also projects that the drying will continue as the region gets warmer. If the researchers are right, the trend could exacerbate tensions in one of the most unstable regions in the world.
September 22, 2015
Ancient pollen spores that were floating in the air when mammoths roamed Southern California are providing new insights into historic droughts in the region, including how a series of mega-droughts between about 27,500 and 25,500 years ago changed the ecological landscape. A new scientific paper tracks these changes and suggests that warm ocean conditions similar to what we see off Southern California today fueled that 2,000-year stretch of droughts.
September 16, 2015
Over 40 years, the scientists of the internationally renowned Lamont Tree Ring Lab have hiked the continents in search of tree-ring records. They have documented droughts that stretched for hundreds of years, dated historic earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and found in trees around the world evidence of how the planet cooled and then started warming. The Lab has expanded dendrochronology’s capabilities and becme a global leader in research, training and technology.
August 21, 2015
Trees can record centuries of history in their rings – changes in rainfall and temperatures, even evidence of fires sweeping through a region or the climatic impacts of volcanic eruptions. Annual rings are common in trees that experience seasonal climate variability and dormancy, but in the tropics, these records are rare. Now, for the first time, scientists have documented consistent annual tree rings in a native species on Hawai’i. The history recorded in the ring widths could improve our understanding of the climate in the eastern tropical Pacific, a region where much of the variability of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) originates.
March 18, 2014
Gerardo Iturrino, a longtime engineer and ocean explorer at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, passed away unexpectedly on March 12. A resident of nearby Nyack, he was 51; the cause was heart attack, said his family.
March 04, 2014
A climate scientist who has suggested how mountain building can lower Earth’s thermostat and why ice ages sometimes wax and wane at different speeds has been awarded one of geology’s oldest and most coveted prizes: the British Wollaston Medal. The first woman to win a Wollaston in the prize's183-year history, Maureen Raymo, a researcher at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, joins the company of Victorian giants Charles Darwin and Louis Agassiz, and major 20th-century figures including climatologist Sir Nicholas Shackleton and James Lovelock, originator of the Gaia hypothesis. Raymo, 54, will receive the medal, cast in the platinum-like metal palladium discovered by Henry Wollaston in 1803, at the Geological Society of London’s annual meeting in June.
January 27, 2014
In spring 2010, the research icebreaker Polarstern returned from the South Pacific with a scientific treasure—ocean sediments from a largely unexplored part of the vast, remote ocean that surrounds Antarctica—the Southern Ocean.What happens in the Southern Ocean can affect the carbon budget of the entire planet. The details of how exactly carbon flows into and out of the ocean, though, aren’t fully understood yet. These new sediment cores from the South Pacific allowed my colleagues from the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany and I to look at a million years of climate history from this key area of the planet. In our results, published this week in Science, we figured out how the amount of terrestrial dust that falls onto the ocean surface (and ends up at the bottom of the ocean, in our sediment cores) changed in sync with other climate parameters in these cores and from other parts of the southern hemisphere.
November 08, 2013
The Sahara wasn’t always a desert. Trees and grasslands dominated the landscape from roughly 10,000 years ago to 5,000 years ago. Then, abruptly, the climate changed, and north Africa began to dry out.
Previous research has suggested that the end of the African Humid Period came gradually, over thousands of years, but a study published last month in Science says it took just a few hundred. The shift was initially triggered by more sunlight falling on Earth’s northern hemisphere, as Earth’s cyclic orientation toward the sun changed. But how that orbital change caused North Africa to dry out so fast–in 100 to 200 years, says the study–is a matter of debate.
October 28, 2013
A recent slowdown in global warming has led some skeptics to renew their claims that industrial carbon emissions are not causing a century-long rise in Earth’s surface temperatures. But rather than letting humans off the hook, a new study in the leading journal Science adds support to the idea that the oceans are taking up some of the excess heat, at least for the moment. In a reconstruction of Pacific Ocean temperatures in the last 10,000 years, researchers have found that its middle depths have warmed 15 times faster in the last 60 years than they did during apparent natural warming cycles in the previous 10,000.
July 01, 2013
Nearly 25 years after an international ban was placed on ivory, African elephants are being slaughtered at a rate that could bring about their extinction this century. By allowing the trade of ivory acquired before 1989 to continue, the ban put the burden on law enforcement to distinguish between legal ivory and poached. Now, a new method for dating elephant tusks, described in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), could make it easier to enforce the ivory ban and save the African elephant from extermination say researchers. The method might also be applied to endangered rhinoceroses and other wildlife.
May 29, 2013
During the last ice age, when thick ice covered the Arctic, many scientists assumed that the deep currents below that feed the North Atlantic Ocean and help drive global ocean currents slowed or even stopped. But in a new study in Nature, researchers show that the deep Arctic Ocean has been churning briskly for the last 35,000 years, through the chill of the last ice age and warmth of modern times, suggesting that at least one arm of the system of global ocean currents that move heat around the planet has behaved similarly under vastly different climates.
March 20, 2013
Scientists examining evidence across the world from New Jersey to North Africa say they have linked the abrupt disappearance of half of earth’s species 200 million years ago to a precisely dated set of gigantic volcanic eruptions. The eruptions may have caused climate changes so sudden that many creatures were unable to adapt—possibly on a pace similar to that of human-influenced climate warming today. The extinction opened the way for dinosaurs to evolve and dominate the planet for the next 135 million years, before they, too, were wiped out in a later planetary cataclysm.
August 03, 2012
Human civilization arose during the relatively balmy climate of the last 10,000 years. Even so, evidence is accumulating that at least two cold spells gripped the northern hemisphere during this time, and that the cooling may have coincided with drought in the tropics. Emerging research on climate during this Holocene period suggests that temperature swings were more common than previously thought, and that climate changes happened on a broad, hemispheric scale.
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.
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.
April 06, 2011
The eruption of the Laki volcano in Iceland in 1783-84 set off a cascade of catastrophe, spewing sulfuric clouds into Europe and eventually around the world.
February 23, 2011
We may think of the Pacific Northwest as rain-drenched, but new research led by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh shows that the region could be in for longer dry seasons, and is unlikely to see a period as wet as the 20th century any time soon.
December 22, 2010
In the first project of its kind, scientists are drilling deep into the bed of the fast-shrinking Dead Sea, searching for clues to past climate changes and other events that may have affected human history back through Biblical times and before.
November 03, 2010
Scientists have long known that large volcanic explosions can affect the weather by spewing particles that block solar energy and cool the air. Some suspect that extended “volcanic winters” from gigantic blowups helped kill off dinosaurs and Neanderthals...
September 07, 2010
Expanded irrigation has made it possible to feed the world’s growing billions—and it may also temporarily be counteracting the effects of climate change in some regions, say scientists in a new study. But some major groundwater aquifers, a source of irrigation water, are projected to dry up in coming decades from continuing overuse, and when they do, people may face the double whammy of food shortages and higher temperatures.
June 25, 2010
Scientists still puzzle over how Earth emerged from its last ice age, an event that ushered in a warmer climate and the birth of human civilization. In the geological blink of an eye, ice sheets in the northern hemisphere began to collapse and warming spread quickly to the south. Most scientists say that the trigger...
May 27, 2010
Some of the worst droughts to hit North Africa in the last 900 years have occurred recently—in the late 20th century—according to an analysis of tree rings that has provided the most lengthy and detailed climate record yet for this sub-tropical region on the Mediterranean.
Ocean Drilling Expedition off Antarctica May Predict Ice Sheet's Response to Warmer Global TemperaturesMay 04, 2010
New results from a drilling expedition off Antarctica may help scientists learn more about a dramatic turn in climate 34 million years ago, when the planet cooled from a “greenhouse” to an “icehouse” state. In just 400,000 years – a blink of an eye in geologic time – carbon dioxide levels dropped, temperatures plunged and ice sheets formed over what was then the lush continent of Antarctica.
April 21, 2010
The seasonal monsoon rains in Asia feed nearly half the world’s population, and when the rains fail to come, people can go hungry, or worse. A new study of tree rings provides the most detailed record yet of at least four epic droughts that have shaken Asia over the last thousand years..
March 29, 2010
Decades of drought, interspersed with intense monsoon rains, may have helped bring about the fall of Cambodia’s ancient Khmer civilization at Angkor nearly 600 years ago, according to an analysis of tree rings, archeological remains and other evidence.
March 29, 2010
The European Geosciences Union (EGU) has awarded the 2010 Milutin Milankovitch Medal to Professor Emeritus Jim Hays "for his pioneering, fundamental and continuous work on the reconstruction of Cenozoic climates and for his Science 1976 seminal paper on the astronomical theory of palaeoclimates." In the latter, Hays, along with colleagues John Imbrie and Nick Shackelton, proved that the timing of major ice ages is controlled by variations in Earth's orbit around the sun.
February 04, 2010
Scientists aboard the research ship the JOIDES Resolution recently drilled two kilometers into Earth’s crust, setting a new record for the deepest hole drilled through the seafloor on a single expedition.
December 14, 2009
Selected posts from a continuing series of essays and interviews from LDEO scientists on the prospects for a global climate-change treaty.
June 18, 2009
Researchers have reconstructed atmospheric carbon dioxide levels over the past 2.1 million years in the sharpest detail yet, shedding new light on its role in the earth’s cycles of cooling and warming.
April 09, 2009
Four current and former researchers at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory will receive honorary degrees from their alma mater, St. Lawrence University, this spring. The degrees will be awarded at May graduation to paleoclimatologist Peter deMenocal; engineer Dale Chayes; paleoceanographer Miriam Katz; and oceanographer Richard Fairbanks.
January 06, 2009
But Global Warming May Have Helped Override Some Recent Eruptions
Climate researchers have shown that big volcanic eruptions over the past 450 years have temporarily cooled weather in the tropics—but suggest that such effects may have been masked in the 20th century by rising global temperatures
July 15, 2007
July 15, 2007 - The 11th Hour is a 2007 feature film documentary created, produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio on the state of the natural environment.
Lamont’s own Associate Professor Peter deMenocal is one the climate change experts interviewed in the film.
May 14, 2007
A study released on May 11, 2007 provides some of the first solid evidence that warming-induced changes in ocean circulation at the end of the last Ice Age caused vast quantities of ancient carbon dioxide to belch from the deep sea into the atmosphere. Scientists believe the carbon dioxide (CO2) releases helped propel the world into further warming.
August 07, 2006
Each year nearly 40,000 tons of cosmic dust fall to Earth from outer space. Now, the first successful chronological study of extraterrestrial dust in Antarctic ice has shown that this amount has remained largely constant over the past 30,000 years, a finding that could help refine efforts to understand the timing and effects of changes in the Earth's past climate.
New Study of Glacial Retreat Shows that Much of the World Emerged from Last Ice Age at Nearly the Same TimeJune 08, 2006
The end of the recurring, 100,000-year glacial cycles is one of the most prominent and readily identifiable features in records of the Earth's recent climate history. Yet one of the most puzzling questions in climate science has been why different parts of the world, most notably Greenland, appear to have warmed at different times and at different rates after the end of the last Ice Age.
May 26, 2004
Two centuries since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the human population has increased six-fold, and economic activity an estimated fifty-fold. The sheer number of people on the planet and the intensity of economic activity are having profound effects on the long-term global climate, threatening to disrupt vast biological, geochemical, and social systems in future decades. This is fact.
December 18, 2003
Scientists at the University of California, Riverside and Columbia University have found evidence of the release of an enormous quantity of methane gas as ice sheets melted at the end of a global ice age about 600 million years ago, possibly altering the ocean's chemistry, influencing oxygen levels in the ocean and atmosphere, and enhancing climate warming because methane is a powerful greenhouse gas.