Lamont Weekly Report, June 8, 2018

    This week began Saturday with the fall of asteroid 2018 LA, an object some 2 m across that was largely consumed in an atmospheric fireball over southern Africa. The asteroid, discovered 8 hours before impact, was only the third such object detected by astronomers prior to Earth impact (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2018/06/04/watch-an-asteroid-light-up-the-sky-before-it-disintegrates-above-earth/?utm_term=.a6efc15e9145). By the end of the week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had announced that last month was the warmest May in history for the conterminous United States, surpassing a record set in the Dust Bowl era (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2018/06/07/the-u-s-just-had-its-warmest-may-in-history-blowing-past-1934-dust-bowl-record/?utm_term=.62534a5b2d92).

    Heather Savage received American Geophysical Union’s Outstanding Reviewer Award for 2017, AGU announced on Monday (https://eos.org/agu-news/in-appreciation-of-agus-outstanding-reviewers-of-2017). Heather was nominated for the award by an editor of Geophysical Research Letters. Others receiving awards this year included former Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences Assistant Professor Tiffany Shaw (now at the University of Chicago) and former Lamont Postdoctoral Research Fellow Allison Wing (now at Florida State University).

    The June issue of Nature Geoscience includes a review paper by Michela Biasutti, Aiko Voigt, Adam Sobel, and American, French, British, and South Korean coauthors on the importance of local physics for the accurate simulation of monsoon systems in global climate models. Michela and her colleagues argue that incorporating such effects as zonal asymmetries in atmospheric circulation, differences in surface fluxes between land and ocean, and the local character of convection systems will improve representations of monsoon systems and their variability in global models of both the modern and past climate.

    The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday published a paper that Alberto Malinverno coauthored with Stephen Meyers from the University of Wisconsin – Madison reporting a new analysis of Milankovitch cycle measurements from 1.4-billion-year-old Proterozoic rocks of the North China Craton and 55-million-year-old Eocene core samples from the Walvis Ridge. The duo applied a Bayesian inversion approach to link astronomical theory with geological observations. Application to the Proterozoic samples yielded an Earth-Moon distance of 340,900 km (compared with a current value of 384,400 km) and a length of day of 18.7 hours, as well as climatic precession and eccentricity cycles at periods of ~14 ky and ~131 ky, respectively. Their results confirm that rates of tidal dissipation since the Proterozoic have been less than the modern value. More generally, their work expands substantially the temporal baseline for solar system dynamics. A press release on their paper’s findings has been posted on our web pages (http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/days-earth-are-getting-longer-you-can-thank-moon-not-seasons), and the story has been picked up by BGR Media and other news sites (http://bgr.com/2018/06/06/earth-moon-days-length-history/).

    The 28 college undergraduates selected as Lamont Summer Interns this year arrived on Tuesday to kick off their summer research. The interns will spend the next 10 weeks immersed in projects supervised by one or more Observatory mentors.

    Yesterday, AGU announced the slate of candidates who will be running in the organization’s 2018 elections. Suzana Camargo is a candidate for Secretary of the Natural Hazards Section, and Suzanne Carbotte is a candidate for Secretary of the Tectonophysics Section. In the coming biennium, on the basis of elections two years ago, Bob Anderson will be President of the Ocean Sciences Section, Kerstin Lehnert will continue as a member of the AGU Board of Directors, and Robin Bell will be AGU President.

    The deadly eruption of Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala this week and the ongoing eruption of Kilauea kept Einat Lev in the news, including an article in Popular Science on Monday (https://www.popsci.com/volcano-vocabulary-kinds-of-lava) and a story on CBC News on Wednesday (http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/fuego-kilauea-volcano-1.4692265). Robin Bell was quoted in a Newsweek story Monday reporting that East Antarctica has a level of seismicity similar to that of the Canadian Shield (http://www.newsweek.com/east-antarctica-isnt-quiet-scientists-thought-region-has-earthquake-activity-956856).

    Today is the last day on the job for Carol Mountain, Academic Program Manager for the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and a fixture on the Lamont Campus for several decades. Carol holds two degrees from Columbia, and she spent nearly her entire professional career working either for DEES or Lamont, including two cruises on the R/V Robert Conrad. This afternoon, starting at 3 pm on the Lamont Hall lawn, a “Backyard Barbeque” farewell celebration is being held in her honor. I hope to see you there.

                                             

                                  Sean