The last week before Labor Day and the start of fall classes is a traditional week for vacations at Columbia – indeed the entire university administration is rumored to be away – and I have followed this tradition. Nonetheless, the pace of science is not slowed markedly by the summer getaways of scientists (or administrators), as the following news attests.
The R/V Marcus Langseth left Kodiak, Alaska, on Monday afternoon to complete the last phase of the Alaska Amphibious Community Seismic Experiment, including recovery of 30 ocean-bottom seismometers and additional multi-beam surveying. Co-chief scientists are Geoff Abers and Peter Haeussler from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Alaska Science Center. Recovery of seafloor instruments began within 12 hours of departure from port. The science team is keeping a blog of their progress (https://alaskaamphibious.wordpress.com/).
On Monday, Nature Climate Change published online a paper coauthored by Hugh Ducklow and Lamont alumnus Colm Sweeney – now at the Global Monitoring Division of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory – on the uptake of oceanic carbon dioxide along the West Antarctic Peninsula, an important window into the broader issue of CO2 uptake by the Southern Ocean. From 25 years of observations along a regional sampling grid offshore of the Palmer Long-Term Ecological Research station, the team – led by Michael Brown from the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University – showed that greater oceanic CO2 uptake is enabled by greater upper oceanic stability and enhanced levels of biological production and biological drawdown of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), particularly by diatoms. Because changes in sea-ice dynamics have increased upper oceanic stability over the past 25 years, there has been nearly a fivefold increase in summertime oceanic CO2 uptake. The team predicted that continued warming and declining sea ice in the area, in contrast, will decrease biological DIC drawdown, lowering oceanic CO2 uptake in the future, a finding that provides a basis for improving our understanding of oceanic CO2 uptake in other Antarctic coastal regions. A News & Views piece on the paper, by Nicolas Metzl from Sorbonne Université (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-019-0562-1), was also posted on Monday.
Lamont scientists in the news this week included Radley Horton, quoted in a Los Alamos Daily Post story Sunday, taken from a press release last week by the American Geophysical Union, on the impact of rising global temperatures on the climate hazard of combined high heat and high humidity (https://www.ladailypost.com/content/agu-rising-summer-heat-could-soon-endanger-travelers-annual-muslim-pilgrimage). Adam Sobel wrote an opinion piece for CNN Monday on why the proposal to detonate a nuclear explosion to modify the intensity or track of a hurricane – a suggestion recently attributed to Donald Trump (an attribution he has denied) – is a “terrible idea” (https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/26/opinions/trump-nuke-hurricanes-science-sobel/index.html). Kevin Griffin was extensively quoted in a New Yorker article Tuesday on the life cycles of trees and their relationship to environmental factors (https://www.newyorker.com/science/elements/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-tree). A Physics World story Wednesday on the impact of implicit gender bias on the hiring of women to positions in science and engineering included a quote from Kuheli Dutt (https://physicsworld.com/a/hiring-committees-with-an-implicit-gender-bias-hire-fewer-women-says-study/).
As the week draws to a close, hurricane Dorian is intensifying and projected to head for a landfall along Florida’s Atlantic coast (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/27/us/hurricane-dorian-map.html). May you enjoy the three-day weekend, preferably outside of the storm’s path.