This past weekend I was in Washington, D.C., and the cherry trees lining the Tidal Basin were at peak bloom. It felt as though spring was well underway.
Notwithstanding spring’s later arrival date on the Lamont Campus, there have been scientific milestones aplenty at this time of year.
Sarah Ortiz, a 2018 Lamont Summer Intern and Barnard College student who worked in the laboratory of Beizhan Yan, won first place in the student poster competition at a conference on Impacts of Microplastics in the Urban Environment (https://cues.rutgers.edu/microplastics-conference-2019.html), held at Rutgers University on Thursday and Friday last week. Beizhan also spoke at the meeting as a member of a panel on the transport and fate of microplastics. Congratulations, Sarah!
On Monday, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a paper by Suzana Camargo and Francesco Pausata of the Centre Étude et la Simulation du Climat à l’Échelle Régionale at the University of Quebec on the effect of major volcanic eruptions on tropical cyclone activity. The pair used ensemble simulations to show that eruptions leading to the injection of large quantities of aerosols into the stratosphere can cause a strong hemispheric asymmetry in atmospheric cooling, which in turn leads to a shift in the latitude of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ). The ITCZ shift and surface temperature anomalies produce changes in the potential intensity and the genesis potential intensity index of tropical cyclones that can last as long as four years, although these changes amount to a redistribution rather than a reduction in tropical cyclone activity following the volcanic event. A Nicole deRoberts story about the paper’s findings (https://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/large-volcanic-eruptions-can-alter-hurricane-strength-and-frequency) is on our web site.
What took me to Washington on Monday was the first day of a three-day workshop at the National Science Foundation on options for the provision of facilities for active-source marine seismic imaging of the oceanic crust and upper mantle after the foundation divests from ownership of the R/V Langseth. Billed as an Ideas Lab, the invitation-only workshop was organized by a professional facilitating organization called Know Innovation. Other attendees from Lamont were Will Fortin, Sean Higgins, and Donna Shillington.
Kuheli Dutt coauthored a guide to Inclusive Scientific Meetings, circulated widely on Tuesday and prepared by the community groups 500 Women Scientists and the Earth Science Women’s Network, following a workshop held last summer at the Aspen Global Change Institute. An interview by science writer Alexandra Witze of the guide’s lead author, Angie Pendergrass from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, was published by Nature magazine on Tuesday (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01022-y). Kuheli has posted a downloadable copy of the guide on the website of Lamont’s Office of Academic Affairs and Diversity (https://diversity.ldeo.columbia.edu/content/lamont-code-conduct).
Bärbel Hönisch has recently published a book on Boron Proxies in Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, coauthored by Laura Haynes, Kat Allen, Stephen Eggins and Katherine Holland from The Australian National University, and Katja Lorbacher from The University of Melbourne (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/book/10.1002/9781119010678). The publisher’s website states, “Anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions not only warm our planet but also acidify our oceans. It is currently unclear to which degree Earth’s climate and marine life will be impacted by these changes but information from Earth history, particularly the geochemical signals of past environmental changes stored in the fossil remains of marine organisms, can help us predict possible future changes. This book aims to be a primer for scientists who seek to apply boron proxies in marine carbonates to estimate past seawater carbonate chemistry and atmospheric pCO2.” Bärbel did not ask me to mention that hardcover and eTextbook versions of her book are available on Amazon.
Several members of the Lamont community engaged in public outreach this week. On Tuesday, Galen McKinley spoke on “Carbon Dioxide Cycles: Where Is All the Carbon Dioxide Going?” to an audience at the Ridgewood Public Library in Ridgewood, New Jersey (http://collegeclubofridgewood.blogspot.com/p/meetings-programs_15.html). Galen wrote, “It was a pleasure to interact with members of the community interested in climate and the oceans, and in the research being done at Lamont. They wanted to know what they can do on the issue and were open to the big challenges we face.” Also on Tuesday, in an event at The Nyack Center, Robin Bell served as moderator and Billy D’Andrea and Nicole Davi as panelists in a discussion of “How Urgent Is the Moment: Facts on Climate from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory” (https://www.nyackknows.com/conversations-at-the-knowledge-market/).
Media coverage of Lamont scientists included an appearance by Jim Davis on a Nightline clip on ABC News last week about flat-Earth adherents – Jim explained that Earth is spheroidal because of the action of gravity (https://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/controversial-youtube-star-logan-paul-documents-flat-earth-62030277). On Monday, Peter de Menocal appeared on CBS News to comment on the topic of atmospheric warming and permafrost melting in the Arctic (https://www.cbsnews.com/video/scientists-working-to-prevent-permafrost-from-thawing-and-releasing-greenhouse-gases/). A Physics World story Tuesday summarized an Environmental Research Letters paper by Natalie Boelman and colleagues arguing that more work is needed to understand the impact of changes in the extent, timing, and characteristics of Arctic snow for local wildlife (https://physicsworld.com/a/changing-snow-harms-arctic-wildlife/). Also on Tuesday, a Science News story on a report about the finding in Montana of 66-million-year-old fossil fish buried by ejecta from the end-Cretaceous Chicxulub impact crater includes a quote from Paul Olsen (https://www.sciencenews.org/article/new-fossils-north-dakota-dinosaur-killing-asteroid-impact). An Indypendent article Tuesday on public debate about a proposal for a natural gas pipeline in New York harbor included a quote from Gisela Winckler on the importance of reducing fossil fuel use (https://indypendent.org/2019/04/no-safe-harbor-for-rockaway-pipeline-opponents-say/).
Friday of next week will feature the annual First-Year Student Colloquium, during which all first-year graduate students will give a presentation – in the style of an American Geophysical Union meeting talk – on their research area. The event, to be held in Monell Auditorium, will take up much of the day. Organizers Alexandra Balter and Lauren Moseley have promised that “food will be provided.”
In the meantime, this afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium speaker will be Edwin Gerber, a Professor in the Center for Atmosphere Ocean Science in the Mathematics Department at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences (https://edwinpgerber.github.io/). Ed will be speaking on yet another connection between large volcanic eruptions and atmospheric dynamics, with his talk on “The circulation response to volcanic eruptions.” May your afternoon circulation bring you to Monell to join me in his audience.