Lamont Weekly Report, February 7, 2020

    The first votes in the U.S. Presidential election process were cast this week at the Iowa caucuses. A story in The Verge on Wednesday reports that, according to a recent survey by Yale and George Mason universities, climate change was named as the fifth most important issue that registered voters considered when voting for a candidate, and as the top issue for liberal Democrats.
    Last week Carlos Martinez received the good news that he received an Outstanding Oral Presentation Award at the Climate Variability and Change (CVC) Symposium at the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting last month in Boston. Carlos was one of six students to receive presentation awards from the CVC judging committee, three for oral presentations and three for posters. Carlos received his award for his talk on “Interannual variability of the early and late rainy seasons in the Caribbean.” Congratulations, Carlos!
    The Biology and Paleo Environment Division this week welcomed the arrival of Lamont Postdoctoral Fellow Oana Dumitru. A paleoclimatologist who works on past sea level change, Oana received a 2012 Ph.D. in environmental science from Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and a second Ph.D. in geology last year from the University of South Florida. Her thesis at USF was a study of past global sea levels derived from phreatic overgrowths on speleothems in caves on Mallorca, and paleoclimate reconstructions for the western Mediterranean from carbon and oxygen isotope analyses and mineral changes in cave deposits in the same region. At Lamont, Oana will work with Maureen Raymo and Jacky Austermann on sea levels during past warm periods.
    Jacky is also lead author of a paper in the 15 February issue of Earth and Planetary Science Letters that reports a new study of the paleoshorelines of Lake Bonneville and Lake Lahontan in western North America and the implications of those results for mantle viscosity and the geometry of the Laurentide ice sheet. Jacky and her coauthors showed first that the shoreline data can be used to infer both the lake loads and a regional viscosity structure that involves a thin lithosphere and a low sublithospheric viscosity. A northward-dipping residual in the shoreline data, after accounting for lake loads, is attributed by Jacky and her colleagues to the fact that the paleolakes were on the distal flank of the bulge peripheral to the Laurentide ice sheet. The paleoshoreline observations thus constrain the extent of North America’s ice sheet, the shape of its peripheral bulge, and the viscosity of the underlying mantle. A news story on the paper’s findings was published by Eos on Monday.

    Hugh Ducklow recently coauthored a chapter on marine microbiology that appears in volume 18 of the book series The Sea, also published as a supplement to Journal of Marine Research. The volume is dedicated to James McCarthy, until his death last December the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography at Harvard, and some time back a member of Hugh’s Ph.D. thesis committee. Hugh wrote, “The article is a history of marine microbiology in the east (Soviet Union) and west (mostly at Woods Hole and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography). We note the contributions of Barnard Professor of Biology Cornelia Cary, one of the first women to conduct research at WHOI (although not allowed to go on oceanographic cruises). Principal figures Selman Waksman (Rutgers University, discoverer of streptomycin) and August Krogh (University of Copenhagen) are both Nobel Prize winners in other fields who conducted marine microbiology research during their summer holidays in Woods Hole in the 1930s. Waksman, one of WHOI founder Henry Bigelow’s first scientific appointments, suffered so horribly from seasickness that he was excused from the mandatory summer cruises aboard the Atlantis.”

   On Monday, Nature Climate Change published a Perspective paper co-authored by Laia Andreu-Hayles on the greening of the Arctic in response to climate change. The team made the case that the causes and dynamics of the greening trends, and associated browning trends, are more complex, variable, and scale-dependent than previously appreciated. The group identified the most promising research directions to advance our understanding of these phenomena further.

    On Tuesday, Kevin Krajick posted his annual summary of scientific fieldwork planned by Observatory scientists, and other Earth Institute staff, for calendar year 2020 and beyond. The summary emphasizes field areas on land, rather than at sea, and work is planned on every continent.

    On Wednesday, our web site gained a Margie Turrin story on the launch of a project to study sea-level change in Greenland and its effects on local marine habitats. In contrast to much of the world’s coastlines, sea level is falling along most of Greenland’s coast, a consequence of isostatic rebound in response to ice loss and reduced gravitational attraction between the lessening ice mass and the oceans. The Greenland Rising project will document these changes and their impacts, with support from the National Science Foundation and in collaboration with the Greenland Institute of National Resources and local Greenland communities. Jacky Austermann, Robin Bell, Jonny Kingslake, David Porter, and Kirsty Tinto are among those at Lamont involved in the project.
    Yesterday, Lamont distributed the February issue of its electronic newsletter to a large mailing list. The issue includes seven stories about Lamont science from last month; an announcement about the next in Lamont’s public lecture series, Our Changing Planet; a link to the press release announcing that the 2020 Vetlesen Prize will go to satellite geodesist Anny Cazenave; an education and outreach story on the Greenland Rising project; and links to 34 media stories in January about Lamont science projects or with commentary by Lamont scientists.

    Lamont scientists in the news this week include Peter de Menocal, quoted in a story Sunday on The Hill on a Republican proposal to address greenhouse gas emissions, in part, by increasing the rate of planting of new trees to about 3.3 billion per year. Ben Cook was quoted in a Grist story Tuesday on the likelihood of different scenarios for future greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. The work of Joaquim Goes and Beizhan Yan on microparticles of plastic in the waters of the Hudson River and New York City Harbor area was mentioned in Susan Hellauer’s Earth Matters column in Wednesday’s Nyack News & Views.

    On Thursday and Friday next week, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography will host “Gateways to the Ocean: A Symposium Celebrating Arnold Gordon’s Contributions to Physical Oceanography.” The timing and venue for the symposium are tied to Arnold’s 80th birthday (which was on Tuesday of this week: Happy birthday, Arnold!) and the Ocean Sciences Meeting, to be held in San Diego starting two days after the symposium. Ryan Abernathey and Bruce Huber serve on the symposium organizing committee, along with Janet Sprintall from Scripps and Martin Visbeck from GEOMAR. Pierre Dutrieux, Laura Gruenberg, and Lamont alumna Sarah Purkey will be among the symposium speakers.

    In the meantime, today’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by seismologist Richard Allen, Director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory and Class of 1954 Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Richard will speak on “MyShake: Global earthquake warning with a smartphone seismic network.” I hope that you will not be so shaken by national political events this afternoon that you cannot bring your smartphone, network with your colleagues, and join me in his audience.