Lamont Weekly Report, April 7, 2017

     Politico circulated a story last week that workers at the Department of Energy’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy were told to avoid the phrase “climate change” in written communications and briefings ( Earth’s climate, of course, will continue to evolve no matter what language is used by officials in Washington. And understanding the nature and impacts of those changes on regional to global scales remains an urgent subject that warrants a sustained commitment to scientific research, at Lamont and across the globe.

    At the Observatory, the Geochemistry Division welcomed two visitors late last week. Asif Javed, a Senior Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Bahria University in Pakistan ( is visiting Lamont for six months to work with Lex van Geen. Asif has brought samples he collected from irrigation wells, paddy soil, and rice from the Indus River floodplain, and while here he will be analyzing these samples for arsenic. Tengxiang Xie, a Ph.D. student at Xiamen University, is visiting the Observatory for six months to work with Peter Schlosser. Tengxiang is using isotopic tracers to improve our understanding of the Indonesian Throughflow and its impact on global ocean circulation and climate.

    The Marine Geology and Geophysics Division welcomed several arrivals this week. Martin Wearing is a new Postdoctoral Research Scientist in cryospheric science. Martin completed his Ph.D. in applied mathematics last year at Cambridge University with a thesis that addressed the dynamics of ice shelves through a combination of mathematical modeling, remote sensing, and analogue models. At Lamont he will be working with Jonny Kingslake on the analysis of radar measurements of ice flow to date past changes in flow patterns as well as additional modeling of ice shelves to investigate how their dynamics affect and are affected by the movement of surface meltwater.

    Visiting MG&G for the month of April is a group from the Institute of Marine Sciences and Technology of Dokuz Eylül University in Izmir, Turkey, including Prof. Seda Okay (, graduate student Burcu Barin, and Prof. Günay Çifçi, who will arrive later this month. Joining them this week and at the end of the month is Christopher Sorlien, from the University of California, Santa Barbara ( All are at Lamont to work with Céline Grall, Nano Seeber, and Mike Steckler on the tectonics and stratigraphy of the Marmara Sea. Mike writes, “We are working on the little-studied central branch of the North Anatolian Fault in the southern Marmara Sea. The northern branch carries about three-fourths of the motion and is more evolved. The central branch is still made up of many anastomosing fault sections. We are using new data we collected in 2013 and 2014, as well as earlier data.”  

    Also this week, Lamont’s Office of Development, Strategic Initiatives, and External Relations welcomed Marie Aronsohn as our new Senior Communications Manager. Marie is a development strategist, communications professional, and broadcast journalist who has covered politics, environmental policy, health, science, government, and community life. Her Emmy-award winning reporting and other communications have appeared on major television, radio, and web outlets, including NJTV, WCBS-TV, CBS, MSNBC,, WNET, NJN, and WNYC. Before her move to Lamont, Marie served as director of development and communications of YWCA Bergen County.  

    On Monday I joined Peter deMenocal, Art Lerner-Lam, and Farhana Mather at a meeting with Carlo Papa and Christian Zulberti, respectively the Director and the Head of Relations with Universities and Research Centers at the ENEL Foundation. Also participating were the Earth Institute’s Executive Director Steve Cohen, Faculty Chair Mike Gerrard, Major Gifts Officer Anna Bedsole Jump, and Deputy Director for Management Alison Miller, along with Pierre Gentine, Vijay Modi, and Alan West, respectively from the Departments of Earth and Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Chemical Engineering. Columbia University and ENEL, a multinational energy company headquartered in Italy, recently signed a three-year academic partnership agreement as part of ENEL’s Global Partners Program. Under this agreement, ENEL will circulate requests for proposals to program members, open ENEL facilities and labs for collaborative work, provide mentoring and support for training activities, and create opportunities for internships for students and new alumni in ENEL group companies. Farhana will serve as Lamont’s contact with the ENEL Foundation, so please contact her if you have ideas for taking advantage of this new partnership.

    On Tuesday, I accompanied Steve Cohen and Mike Gerrard on another in the series of visits scheduled with deans and other academic administrators to discuss opportunities for strengthening ties with Lamont and other Earth Institute units. We visited Dean Mary Boyce and Senior Executive Vice Dean Shih-Fu Chang at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. Discussions ranged from broadening communication and collaboration between faculty at Lamont and in SEAS to strengthening the role of engineering in Earth Institute strategic planning.

    Also on Tuesday, the U.S. Congress passed the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017, the “first major weather legislation enacted since the early 1990s,” according to The Washington Post (, and a bill that received strongly bipartisan support. According to Joel Widder of Federal Science Partners, a portion of the bill on subseasonal to interannual forecasting has its roots in a briefing that Adam Sobel, Richard Seager, IRI’s Lisa Goddard, and I gave on Capitol Hill two years ago, under the sponsorship of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, chaired by Sen. John Thune (R, South Dakota). The word forecasting, however long the time scale, does not begin with the letter c.

    New to Lamont’s web pages this week is a video interview with Kirsty Tinto on her airborne geophysical surveys of the subsurface structure of ice sheets and ice shelves in Antarctica ( The video is part of a series created by the Earth Institute on what its researchers do and why they do it.

    Today’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by chemical oceanographer Robert Sherrell, a Professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University ( Rob, a Principal Investigator in both the GEOTRACES and Palmer Long-Term Ecological Research programs, will be speaking about “How natural iron fertilization works in productive West Antarctic shelf regions.” In the hope that his talk can fertilize your thinking about marine chemistry, please join me in his audience.