One of the news stories that led off this week was a New York Times article on the most recent draft of the Climate Science Special Report of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/08/07/climate/document-Draft-of-the-Climate-Science-Special-Report.html), of which Radley Horton is one of 29 lead authors. The Times story (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/07/climate/climate-change-drastic-warming-trump.html) raised the question of how the report, now awaiting government approval, would be handled by the Trump administration, given its depiction of the impact of climate change on heat waves, severe storms, and other extreme events, particularly in the absence of concerted efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. I suspect that the President has read the report. How else would he envision “fire and fury like the world has never known”?
On Tuesday, the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences published a paper by Cari Shimkus, Mingfang Ting, Yochanan Kushnir, Harald Rieder, and colleagues reporting their analysis of the damages produced by winter storms in the New York tristate area during the years 2001-2014. The group studied 70 storms on the basis of station observations of 24-h precipitation, 24-h snowfall, maximum sustained wind, and storm tide. They showed that flooding was responsible for the highest losses, and storms that exceeded intensity criteria for several hazards contributed the greatest share of the damages. Their work provides an informed basis for community storm mitigation planning. An Adrienne Kenyon story on the paper’s findings was posted on the Lamont web site (http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/analyzing-winter-storm-risk-and-resilience-changing-climate).
I spent much of the week in meetings or on telephone calls in support of our efforts to craft a response to the National Science Foundation’s solicitation on the “Provision of marine seismic capabilities to the U.S. research community,” a request for proposals that will determine the fate of the R/V Marcus Langseth for the next several years. On Wednesday morning, I was in the office of Provost John Coatsworth for one of those meetings, and Art Lerner-Lam, Mike Purdy, and Senior Executive Vice President Gerald Rosberg joined us by telephone. Gerry called in from Singapore, Mike from Paris, and Art from Palisades, so there was representation from great centers of critical thought on three continents.
Also on Wednesday, the American Geophysical Union announced in Eos that it would be adopting new referencing and grammatical style guidelines for its scientific journals (https://eos.org/editors-vox/new-style-for-agu-journals-and-books?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_content=new-style-for-agu-journals-and-books). For those of us who remember the lengthy transition in the quality of copy editing and production in the society’s journals following the transfer of those tasks from AGU staff to a commercial publisher at the end of 2012, or even when AGU’s journals abandoned pagination for digital object identifiers at the outset of 2002 and their articles were no longer included in citation statistics for a lengthy interval, we would be wise to buckle our professional seat belts.
Several Lamont scientists were featured this week in news coverage of their research. Yael Kiro was interviewed Monday for PBS Scitech Now on her work on the paleoclimate of the Dead Sea region and particularly her finding that during past droughts the rate of addition of fresh water to the Dead Sea was as low as 20 percent of the current flux (http://www.scitechnow.org/videos/mysteries-dead-sea/#). Radley Horton appeared on Fox 5 News Wednesday on the topic of his work on the impact of climate change on air travel (http://www.fox5ny.com/news/272927916-story). Anne Bécel was quoted in Scientific American yesterday in a story on a recent paper she led on seismic imaging of tsunamigenic structures along a segment of the Alaska subduction along which the plate interface is steadily creeping and had been thought not to be susceptible to great earthquakes (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mega-tsunami-could-be-triggered-by-an-alaska-quake/).
The observant among you may have noticed that the banner images at the top of our home page now include a link (http://openhouse.ldeo.columbia.edu/) to our next Open House. In mid-August that event may seem as distant as the World Series, but it is only eight weeks away. Thankfully, there is still time to enjoy the tail end of summer.