Lamont Weekly Report, April 23, 2021

     Hello Friends,  By now, maybe you’ve heard this week’s big news—the spring turtle migration has begun!  Keep your eyes peeled driving in to Lamont…that small leaf-sized spot in the road could be a baby snapper. 

     And, of course, I also became Director of Lamont, dropping the interim moniker.  This is truly a duty and honor that I am happy to accept. I want to thank the hundreds of people that have sent me messages over the last few days—I have appreciated each one.  I also want to thank President Bollinger in particular for his faith and confidence in me, and for asking me to take on this role, along with the role of Co-Founding Dean of the Climate School.  The establishment of the Columbia Climate School is going to bring many changes, and also many opportunities.  I invite the entire Lamont community to work with me, to make sure we build a future that better supports our researchers in their scientific pursuits, that expands our view of what and how scientific research can be done, that is inclusive and supportive of all, and that centers Lamont in the global discussion about the future of our planet. 

     Together we must find ways to enhance financial security for our scientists and staff, promote essential investment in our campus and infrastructure, and nurture a robust role for Lamont staff in the governance of the new school. We have to look to the future, down the road, and think about what we want that future to be.  Now is a unique opportunity for creativity as NSF looks to grow and the focus on climate and climate solutions is everywhere.  We can work together to implement our Vision Plan that provides a framework for Lamont’s next phase.

     Let us also build on our influential and storied past as we move forward.  If you look at my twitter feed this week, you’ll see my new Marie Tharp tote bag highlighting yet another children’s book that will inevitably inspire dozens, if not hundreds, of youngsters to pursue their dreams and adventures.  I know that if Marie were here now, she would welcome the changes that have propelled LDEO forward over the past few decades. 

     On the broader national stage this week, I think we all heard the collective sigh of relief on Tuesday when news of the guilty verdict in the George Floyd murder trial was released.  While the decision gives us hope for the future, in the words of Vice President Kamala Harris, “A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice. This verdict brings us a step closer, and the fact is we still have work to do.” We all need to internalize that message, individually and collectively, as we continue with anti-racism efforts. Let me use this opportunity to reaffirm Lamont’s Commitment to Anti-Racism and Institutional Change and to work persistently towards fulfilling this commitment.  I was also deeply moved by President Bollinger’s message on the verdict, concluding with, “I have waited for legal judgments before, but none has been more important than this one today, in a state court in Minnesota, to recommitting the society to removing the practices of invidious discrimination against Black Americans.” 

     From Marie Tharp to Kamala Harris to Michelle Obama, another inspiring pioneer, imagine my excitement when I saw Michelle tweeted a link to an article that spotlighted five young women “working to protect our planet and create a brighter future for all of us”, including one of our own, intern Lauren Ritchie!  That is pretty darn cool!  Also very cool was graduate student Elise Myers being featured on CBS This Morning this week—she was discussing the pollution in the Hudson River and some of the research going on at Lamont.

     I really can’t do justice to all the media that featured Lamont scientists talking about the Earth this week. Columbia News featured an article on Lamont Research Professor Chris Zappa’s research in collaboration with the Indigenous community off of Kotzebue Sound in northwestern Alaska. Chris’s team has been working with community elders “to understand the impact that climate change has had on the area and the Indigenous way of life”. On Wednesday, the Earth Institute hosted The Climate Imperative: Meeting the Moment moderated by Jeff Berardelli, CBS News Meteorologist, with Alex Halliday and yours truly, as part of its Earth Series: Solutions for Our Changing Planet.  Afterwards, Alex, Jeff and I hosted a break-out session with some of our alumna and donors—I am always so inspired when I meet people who are not Earth scientists, yet completely get how crucial it is to preserve and maintain a healthy and sustainable planet.  How do we get everybody on that train?  Communicate, communicate, communicate.

     On Thursday, the Earth Institute series Sustain What? hosted by Andy Revkin, featured “Taking Back Earth Day Amid an Endless Greenwash Surge”. Special guests included DEES professor Adam Sobel. You can watch past Sustain What? episodes here. Also on Thursday, EI LIVE K12 hosted a special session in celebration of Earth Day.  Vicki Ferrini, Mike Kaplan, Kirsty Tinto, and Jonny Kingslake shared their food stories from the field, on land and in the ocean, along with recipes, while emphasizing the importance of minimizing waste and conserving resources when traveling to do fieldwork.

     Yet another event from Thursday was The Brooklyn Rail’s The Sound of Science: Artists and Scientists Discuss Climate Change, a “conversation and musical performances with artists, scientists, composers, musicians, and museum directors on the implications of NFTs (non-fungible tokens?), carbon capture, and the performing arts in the age of climate crisis”. Guests included Andy Revkin, and DEES Assistant Professor Jacky Austermann (who also performed with Eve Ó Donnell and Lea Luka Sikau).  Jacky, inquiring minds want to know, did you meet DJ Spooky?

     The fun continues next week on April 27 at 7:00 PM when you can join The Explorers Club: Women of the Deep, an event featuring the fearless women of the Explorers Club who explore the deep sea to increase our understanding of the oceans.  Featured guests include our very own Vicki Ferrini and Marie Tharp’s work will be featured by one of the other guests.  For a full program and livestreaming information go here.  On May 4, another event, Climate to Health: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Bridging Decisions across Scales, will “highlight an inter-Institute initiative between Columbia’s Data Science Institute, the Earth Institute, and the Zuckerman Institute to advance the science of data-driven decision making in the context of climate change”.  Participants will include Alex Halliday and Adam Sobel. Register for this event here.

     A lot going on…exciting times.  I’ll end by saying I hope everyone had a nice Earth Day.  At my house, we memorialized the day by building a compost system in our backyard.  In 8 Meaningful Actions You Can Take This Earth Day, seven other great ideas for making a global difference in your day-to-day life can be found.

     Ever forward, Mo









Five Foods that Could Disappear Forever Thanks to Climate Change

The Independent

April 22, 2021

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Benjamin Cook.


Why We Need to Take Back Earth Day

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

April 21, 2021

Opinion piece by Lamont climate scientist Adam Sobel.


Homo Erectus: Detective Work and Geoscience Unearth Our Ancient Ancestor's African Roots

Daily Maverick

April 20, 2021

Article on study co-authored by Lamont paleoecologist Kevin Uno.


Humans Are Influencing Wind and Weather Patterns Across the North Atlantic by Releasing CO2

AZO Cleantech

April 20, 2021

Article on study co-authored by Lamont climate scientist Mark Cane.


How Bad Will California's Fire Season Be? Experts on the Threat – and What Can Be Done


April 19, 2021

Article cites study by Lamont scientists Park Williams, Edward Cook, Jason Smerdon, Benjamin Cook, Kasey Bolles, Seung Baek, and colleagues.


The Future of Western Water Restrictions Is Here


April 19, 2021

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Richard Seager.


Humans Are Directly Influencing Wind and Weather Over the North Atlantic

Science Daily

April 19, 2021

Article on study co-authored by Lamont climate scientist Mark Cane.


Can We Address Climate Change by Removing Carbon Dioxide From the Atmosphere?

The Public's Radio

April 19, 2021

Interview with Lamont oceanographer and carbon cycle scientist Galen McKinley.




8 Meaningful Actions You Can Take This Earth Day

April 22, 2021

Making a difference in your day-to-day life is not only empowering, but can lead to wider cultural and societal change.


On the Eve of Earth Day, A Live Discussion About the Consequential Decade Ahead

April 21, 2021

Tonight’s Earth Lecture takes a hard look at climate change and the path forward.


How You Can Help Restore Nature on Earth Day

April 21, 2021

Consider helping to revive a degraded ecosystem by getting involved in an ecorestoration project.


Decades After the Oil Spill That Inspired Earth Day, Are We Prepared for the Next One?

April 21, 2021

We’ve gotten better at preventing and tracking oil spills, but oceanographers say much more progress is needed.


Maureen ‘Mo’ Raymo Takes on a Mighty Mission

April 20, 2021

The decorated climate scientist is named director of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and co-founding dean of the newly launched Columbia Climate School.


Emotional Appeal: How Art Can Inspire Action on Climate Change

April 20, 2021

Climate science tells us how the world is changing. Climate art shapes how we choose to respond.


Announcing the Leadership of the Columbia Climate School

April 19, 2021

The Columbia Climate School will be co-led by four of Columbia’s most eminent climate experts: Alex Halliday, Jason Bordoff, Ruth DeFries, and Maureen Raymo.


Columbia Climate School Goes to the Green Mountains

April 16, 2021

This pre-college program in Castleton, Vermont, will mobilize students in grades 9–12 to take action and affect change in response to our warming planet.