Lamont Weekly Report, December 22, 2017

    Winter is no longer coming; it’s here. The winter solstice was marked at 11:28 EST yesterday, and we have begun three months of seasonally appropriate weather. At least the duration of daylight will now increase daily until June.

    I am pleased to report that Tim Crone has been promoted to Lamont Associate Research Professor, Senior Staff, effective next month. The Marine Geology and Geophysics Division held an informal party yesterday afternoon to celebrate the milestone. Please join me in congratulating Tim on his new rank!

    On Tuesday, Mingfang Ting hosted a visit to Lamont by Xin Peng, Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer of Columbia Global Centers and interim director of the Beijing Center. Art Lerner-Lam and I met with Xin and Mingfang to discuss collaborative opportunities with Chinese universities, government agencies, and commercial partners in the areas of ocean science, air and water quality, and sustainability.

    Also on Tuesday, Mike Purdy brought Avril Haines for her first visit to the Lamont Campus. Avril, who served as Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and Deputy National Security Advisor for President Obama, joined Columbia last month as a fellow in the Law School’s Human Rights Institute and National Security Law Program and as a senior researcher at Columbia World Projects ( Mike and Avril participated with Art, IRI’s Lisa Goddard, and me in a lunchtime discussion of the Observatory’s history and research portfolio, and then Avril heard from Dave Goldberg about his work on carbon capture and storage, Lynn Sykes and Paul Richards about seismic verification and characterization of underground nuclear weapons tests, and Radley Horton and Marco Tedesco about some of Lamont’s programs in climate change adaptation.

    On Wednesday morning, the staff of the Lamont Café provided a sumptuous holiday breakfast to all who stopped in. To Richie, Angela, Beth, Laura, and Seth, thank you for your generosity this week and for meeting the food needs of the campus throughout the year!

    Also on Wednesday, Art and I were visited by Emmanuel Kattan, recently appointed as Director of Columbia University’s Alliance Program with École Polytechnique, Sciences Po, and Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University ( We introduced Emmanuel to Lamont and heard his vision for expanding partnerships across the four Alliance universities, particularly in the areas of climate science and climate change impacts. We agreed to the exchange of additional information and to follow-on discussions later this winter.

    On Wednesday, too, Nora Mascioli successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis on the topic of “Impacts of anthropogenic aerosols on regional climate: Extreme events, stagnation, and the U.S. warming hole.” Her thesis committee included her advisor, Arlene Fiore, as well as Radley Horton, Michael Previdi, Mingfang Ting, and Larry Horowitz from Princeton University. Nora has lined up a postdoctoral position with Amato Evan at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography that will be begin in February. Congratulations, Dr. Mascioli!

    On Thursday, Lamont distributed a special electronic newsletter giving a retrospective view of the calendar year now coming to a close ( The newsletter, crafted by Marie Aronsohn and Ariana Falerni, features links to stories about some of the most impactful scientific papers published by Observatory scientists and students in 2017, as well as links to a dozen examples of print, radio, and television coverage of Lamont science during the year.

    On Thursday night, the U.S. Senate approved a continuing resolution, passed earlier in the day by the House of Representatives, to keep the government in operation for another four weeks. Failure to pass the measure would have triggered a government shutdown today. By such small, halting steps does our current Congress set spending levels for federal agencies.

    May all of you make time over the holiday break to spend with family and friends, relax from the usual pace of work, and recharge your professional batteries. With the New Year, the Observatory’s mission to understand the workings and future of our planet will be as critical as ever.