Lamont Weekly Report, February 8, 2019

    NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies announced this week that 2018 was the fourth-warmest year on record ( As measured by Earth’s average surface temperature, 18 of the 19 warmest years have occurred since 2001, and the last five years have been the five warmest. Last year was more than 1°C warmer than the average temperature of the pre-industrial era. None of these details were deemed worthy of mention during President Trump’s 82-minute-long State of the Union address on Tuesday (

    The continued operation of those portions of the federal government that were shut down for an unprecedented five weeks during December and January is in question again as this week draws to a close. Most federal science agencies are funded only through February 15, when the latest continuing resolution expires. Notwithstanding the high cost to the national economy of the last shutdown (, a new shutdown one week from now remains a possibility.

    By comparison with the news from Washington, this campus feels as though we function in a parallel universe.

    I am pleased to report that Chia-Ying Lee will be joining the Observatory as a Lamont Assistant Research Professor, effective next month. Already well known to many of us, Chia-Ying has been an Associate Research Scientist at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society since 2016, and she was a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at IRI from 2013 to 2016. An expert on tropical meteorology, extreme weather and climate, and risk assessment, she holds two degrees from National Taiwan University, and she completed a Ph.D. thesis on the effects of atmosphere-wave-ocean coupling on tropical cyclone structure at the University of Miami. Chia-Ying is a Center for Climate and Life Fellow, and a Rebecca Fowler interview with her that appeared on the center’s web site about a year ago provides additional information about several aspects of her work ( Please join me in welcoming Chia-Ying to the ranks of the Lamont research faculty!

    Several stories have been added to our web pages this week. On Monday, an interview with Brendan Buckley on his new class on Predicting the Effects of Climate Change on Global Forests was posted ( The class is part of the curriculum developed for the new Master of Science in Sustainability Science program that is being sponsored by the Earth Institute and Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies and has been organized by a team of Lamont research faculty led by Art Lerner-Lam. The interview was conducted by Amanda Askew, a recent graduate of the parallel MS program in Sustainability Management.

    Tuesday saw the posting of an article on Lamont’s Real-Time Earth initiative by freelance writer Renee Cho ( Led by Ryan Abernathey, Tim Crone, and Chris Zappa, the strategic initiative combines technology innovation to exploit the use of instrumented autonomous vehicles to make novel observations in challenging environments with data science innovation to apply new learning tools to large and diverse data sets.

    Jennifer Lamp posted two installments of her field blog from Antarctica on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both were written in November but were posted this week only because Jen at last has an internet connection during her last few days in Antarctica before she flies to New Zealand and then home. Tuesday’s story ( was an introduction to the project she is leading, in collaboration with Joerg Schaefer, to study the processes and rates of rock weathering and erosion in hyper-arid ice-free settings in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. Wednesday’s story ( was a description of the acoustic emission monitoring and surface exposure dating methods that Jen and her colleagues will be using to estimate weathering and erosion rates.

    Yesterday, the February issue of Lamont’s electronic newsletter was broadly distributed ( Under the theme “Exploration and Discovery,” the issue includes six articles on Lamont science, an Office of Education and Outreach story on a project conducted during Antarctic Week, and links to 17 media articles published over the past month that describe Observatory science or include comments by Lamont scientists.

    In the news this week, Sonya Dyhrman was quoted in a Washington Post article Monday on the effect of climate change on ocean color, through changes to the dominant phytoplankton at shallow depths ( A story Monday in Sourcing Journal focused on the work of Joaquim Goes on the pollution of rivers and oceans by microplastics (, although a subscription is needed to access the full article. Peter de Menocal joined Kate Marvel from the Center for Climate Systems Research for a 40-minute session that aired Tuesday on WNYC’s “Here’s the Thing,” hosted by Alec Baldwin and devoted to Earth’s changing climate (

    This afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by David Hodell, the Woodwardian Professor of Geology and Director of the Godwin Laboratory for Paleoclimate Research at the University of Cambridge ( David will be speaking on “Triple oxygen and hydrogen isotopes of gypsum hydration water: A resurrected proxy of hydrologic change.” May you resurrect yourself from your office or lab work, open your mind to change, and join me for his talk.