This week began for me in Woods Hole, where I attended a meeting of the Council of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. As the governing body of the academy, the Council is responsible for stewarding NAS finances and other assets, guiding policies on membership, developing academy positions on scientific issues, and overseeing NAS programs. The Council is also currently completing the first NAS strategic plan and developing procedures for responding to any alleged violations of the academy’s newly adopted Code of Conduct.
The R/V Marcus Langseth this week continued its imaging of the seismic velocity structure beneath Axial Seamount on the crest of the Juan de Fuca Ridge. The portion of the project devoted to three-dimensional imaging was completed yesterday. The seismic gear was then reconfigured to a 12-km-long streamer to conduct two-dimensional multi-channel seismic imaging for the remainder of time on site, before a return to Seattle next Tuesday. Sean Higgins wrote, “It’s been a challenging program with some unexpected issues on streamers, but they’ve managed to work through it all so far. About 2500+ km of sail lines have been completed to date. The latest [science party] blog entry (https://www.axial3dexpedition.com/2019/08/meet-doodlebuggers-wait-whats.html?m=1) is by our own marine tech, Shaun Shaver, who does a nice job of explaining what doodlebuggers are in the seismic world.”
On Monday and Tuesday, Terry Plank hosted a mini-workshop at Lamont for participants in projects that address the Alaska-Aleutian subduction zone as part of the National Science Foundation’s Geodynamic Processes at Rifting and Subducting Margins (GeoPRISMS) program (https://sites.google.com/view/alaska-workshop/home). The goal of the workshop was to foster “interdisciplinary discussions that lead toward synthesizing research results.” Other Lamont workshop participants included Tanner Acquisto, Anna Barth, Anne Bécel, Merry Cai, Jim Cochran, Will Fortin, Nick Frearson, Celine Grall, Klaus Jacob, Peter Kelemen, Kerry Key, Kerstin Lehnert, Einat Lev, Samer Naif, Dan Rasmussen, Donna Shillington, Susanne Straub, and Spahr Webb. Terry wrote the next day, “It was a big success - from the food, to the poster session, dinner on the deck, and science discussions in Comer. Lamont is a wonderful place to hold a workshop, and visitors leave knowing what a special place this is. Dozens of Lamont scientists and students showed up for the entire workshop, or popped in throughout the two days. There is no way I could have pulled this off without the support from so many at Lamont - thank you all!”
Last week, Environmental Research Letters published a paper by Xiaomeng Jin, Arlene Fiore, and their collaborators on the impact of emission controls in New York State on decreases in airborne fine particulate matter and the associated benefits for public health. From an unusually large and diverse set of data products derived from ground-based and remote sensing observations as well as chemical transport models, Xiaomeng and her coauthors showed that between 2002 and 2012 airborne particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter decreased by 28–37% over New York State. From an integrated exposure-response model, the team estimated that the mortality burden associated with four diseases aggravated by particulate intake – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, ischemic heart disease, lung cancer, and cerebrovascular and ischemic stroke – changed from 8410 deaths in 2002 to 2750 deaths in 2012, a decrease by two-thirds, attributed by the authors to the implementation of emission controls during the study period. A Marie Aronsohn release on the paper’s findings was posted Wednesday (https://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/air-pollution-cuts-are-saving-lives-new-york-state), and the story – with quotes by Xiaomeng and Arlene – was picked up by LabRoots yesterday (https://www.labroots.com/trending/earth-and-the-environment/15382/cutting-air-pollution-saves-lives-york).
Geophysical Research Letters recently published an Early View version of a paper by Dan Bishop, Park Williams, and Richard Seager on changes in fall precipitation characteristics in the southeastern United States over the last century. Autumn rainfall in the southeastern U.S., primarily the result of wind-driven moisture transport from the Gulf of Mexico, increased by nearly 40% over the period 1895-2018. Dan and his colleagues showed from weather station and federal agency data that this increase was the result of increases in precipitation intensity rather than frequency of rainstorms. Moreover, most of the increase came on high-precipitation days and during non-tropical frontal storms rather than tropical cyclones. If the observed increase in wind-driven precipitation continues, then the superposed effects of rising humidity in a warming atmosphere likely mean that severe flooding from intense frontal storms will become more common in the region. An AGU press release written by science writing intern Abigail Eisenstadt (https://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/more-intense-non-tropical-storms-causing-increased-rainfall-us-southeast) was posted to our web site on Wednesday.
Lamont’s web pages also saw the addition of several blog entries this week. Mike Steckler posted two new entries from Bangladesh, where he continued work on his field project to measure subsidence, sedimentation rate, and shifting river patterns in the region: a post last Friday described visits to collaborating universities (https://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/khulna-barishal-and-kuakata), and another on Monday summarized the final phase of this season’s fieldwork (https://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/north-patuakhali-and-barisal-end-fieldwork). Gisela Winckler added an entry from her recent cruise on the JOIDES Resolution, as co-chief scientist on International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 383, on the challenges to drilling she and her team experienced because of weather systems and weather-induced waves (https://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/wow-ing-and-raw-ing-south-pacific).
Media stories quoting Lamont scientists continued to focus this week on the impact of high northern-hemisphere temperatures. Park Williams was quoted in a Washington Post story Monday on the increased importance of heat waves on summer wildfires in California and neighboring states (https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/08/05/this-years-fire-season-california-could-be-very-active/). Marco Tedesco was quoted in The Guardian yesterday on temperature records set in Alaska and elsewhere across the Arctic last month (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/aug/08/alaska-warmest-month-ever-july-2019-sea-ice).
Next week, Lamont will co-host, in partnership with Columbia Global Centers, the 4th annual No Boundaries International Art Exhibition (https://www.noboundariesartshow.org/en/2019-no-boundaries-international-art-exhibition-overview/). The event has been designed to encourage students worldwide to communicate their perspectives on global issues through artwork. The theme for this year, “A Drop of Water,” has challenged students to explore the relationship between humans and water through art forms. Selected artworks will be shown in spaces open to the public in the host cities of Beijing, Nairobi, New York City, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro. The exhibition at Lamont, in the Monell Building, will display more than 150 works submitted by students from 15 different countries. Next Wednesday, a special opening ceremony for young artists will feature flash talks by scientists and art educators and workshops on the blend of art with science. If you'd like to attend, please send a note to Cassie Xu.
In the meantime, may you find a means to explore your own relationship with water this weekend.