Lamont Weekly Report, April 1, 2016

     The week was notable for the announcement yesterday by President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China that the two nations would both sign the Paris climate change agreement on Earth Day, three weeks from today at a signing ceremony at the United Nations (

     On Tuesday, Vilma Gallagher, Jennifer Genrich, and Adrienne Kenyon from the events planning staff at the Earth Institute met with Kathy Callahan, Art Lerner-Lam, Stacey Vassallo and me to discuss plans for the Observatory’s next Open House, scheduled for Saturday, October 8. Logistics this year will generally follow those of prior years, and this year the scientific initiatives in Lamont’s Strategic Plan will receive particular emphasis. Meetings with Lamont’s Divisions are planned at which further details will be worked out.

     The R/V Langseth sailed from the Cape Verde Islands on Tuesday. She is heading for a shipyard in Jacksonville, Florida, for maintenance work.

     On Wednesday, Stephen Veitch successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis. Completed under the supervision of Meredith Nettles, his dissertation was on “Glacial earthquakes and glacier seismology in Greenland.” Congratulations, Dr. Veitch!.

     On Thursday, Stacy Morford and I met with Steve Cohen, Jennifer Genrich, and Kevin Krajick at the Earth Institute to discuss communication strategies and how best to coordinate the activities and exploit the respective strengths of communications staff members from the two units.

     Today’s Eos Buzz Newsletter from the American Geophysical Union highlights an Eos article coauthored by Spahr Webb describing two recent geophysical cruises to the subduction zone along the Hikurangi Trough east of North Island, New Zealand, to study slow-slip events, plate coupling, and subsurface seismic and thermal structure. Spahr co-led one of those cruises as part of the Hikurangi Ocean Bottom Investigation of Tremor and Slow Slip (that’s HOBITSS, my precious), and the article features a photo of a Lamont ocean-bottom seismometer at the time of its recovery by the R/V Revelle (

     The field experiences of Mike Kaplan and Aaron Putnam are described in a story that will appear in next Monday’s issue of The New Yorker on glaciologists and the shrinkage of mountain glaciers in response to global warming; an early version of the story is already online ( On Wednesday, Robin Bell was quoted in a Chris Mooney story in The Washington Post ( on a study that forecast sea level rise from Antarctic ice loss under a variety of scenarios for greenhouse gas emissions over the next several centuries.

     Next Monday afternoon, from 2 to 4 pm, Lamont will host an information session on Columbia University’s sustainability principles. Jessica Prata, Columbia’s Assistant Vice President of Environmental Stewardship, and Michael Gerrard, chair of the Earth Institute faculty, will discuss what the university is doing to support and advance sustainability on all of its campuses. Those wishing to attend should so indicate on an RSVP site for the event (

     Next Tuesday afternoon, Lamont will host a press conference to announce an innovative new partnership between the Observatory and the World Surf League. This partnership will enable new research across several areas of ocean science at Lamont. World Surf League CEO Paul Speaker will join me, Peter deMenocal, and Dean Jason Wingard and Greg Muth from Columbia's School of Professional Studies. The press conference will be in Monell Auditorium, and a reception in the lower lobby will follow

     In the meantime, this afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by Christina Ravelo, a Professor of Ocean Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz ( A Lamont and Columbia graduate, Christina is visiting the Observatory this week at the invitation of Lamont’s Alumni Board. Her lecture will be on “The Pliocene: Major features of a globally warm period.” As if in phase with her theme, today’s high temperature marked the warmest period of the week. I hope to see you at the lecture to celebrate both warmth and a distinguished alumna.