The partial shutdown of the federal government – including most federal science agencies – will be four weeks old tomorrow (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/15/us/government-shutdown-update.html). Like expanding ripples in a pond, the impacts of the shutdown are being felt more widely, from the absence of federal scientists at meetings to missed milestones at funding agencies (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6424/216), and from delays in the issuance of permits and clearances to slowdowns in air travel. We continue to gather anecdotes on the effects of the shutdown felt at Lamont, for transmittal to our lobbyists in Washington, so please let the Directorate know of the latest examples of these impacts that have affected you and your work.
We can be thankful that our workplace remains open, and that scientific progress here can continue.
Last Friday, Lamont was visited for the day by Wendy Watson-Wright, Chief Executive Officer of the Ocean Frontier Institute (https://www.oceanfrontierinstitute.com/), “a transnational hub for ocean research” based at Dalhousie University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and the University of Prince Edward Island. Lamont is one of OFI’s seven international partners. The visit, Wendy’s first to Lamont, was triggered by a recent conversation she had with Gisela Winckler in Germany. The day’s sessions, arranged by Art Lerner-Lam, included discussions of Lamont’s work in physical, chemical, and biological oceanography and polar and marine geophysics led by Gisela, Bob Anderson, Sonya Dyhrman, Nick Frearson, Dave Goldberg, Brad Linsley, Mingfang Ting, and Chris Zappa. Wendy was given tours of the noble gas lab by Gisela, the microbial oceanography lab by Sheean Haley, the polar lab by Nick, and the uranium-series geochemistry lab by Bob. Throughout the visit, conversations pointed to many scientific areas in which enhanced interactions between OFI and Lamont can open new opportunities at both institutions.
On Sunday, Samer Naif’s cruise on the R/V Roger Revelle and the experiment he co-led to conduct an electromagnetic survey of the Hikurangi subduction zone east of New Zealand came to a successful close. Samer’s blog (https://emlab.ldeo.columbia.edu/index.php/ht-resist-blog/) includes a preliminary look at a portion of the large volume of magnetotelluric and controlled-source electromagnetic data he and his colleagues collected.
On Tuesday morning, a section of the old Tappan Zee Bridge was explosively demolished. The blast generated seismic waves recorded by Lamont’s seismic network, and Won-Young Kim was quoted in a Rockland County Times story about the event published yesterday, along with a seismogram from the Palisades station (https://www.rocklandtimes.com/2019/01/17/dynamite-blast-shakes-the-ground-and-sinks-the-old-tz/).
At yesterday’s Council of Deans meeting, Provost John Coatsworth announced that his office has appointed several committees to advise and participate in the collective bargaining with the United Auto Workers over two new union contracts, one with graduate students and a second with postdoctoral research scientists and associate research scientists. Two broadly representative bargaining teams will represent Columbia in the negotiations, one for each of the two contracts. Overall support and guidance during the bargaining process will come from a Steering Committee and an Advisory Committee, the latter to consist of senior academic leaders from across the university. Collective bargaining will begin next month.
Yesterday and today, the Observatory hosted a visit by Barrett Cameron, Vice-President for Sales and Service – Americas at Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS), an international marine geophysical company (https://www.pgs.com/). The visit, arranged by Sean Higgins, was designed to provide an opportunity for Lamont’s marine geophysical community and PGS to learn about each other’s interests and capabilities and to explore areas of possible future collaboration. Participants in the discussions included Anne Bécel, Suzanne Carbotte, Vicki Ferrini, Jim Gaherty, Dave Goldberg, Kerry Key, Art Lerner-Lam, Jeff Rupert, Donna Shillington, and Spahr Webb.
In the news this week, Robin Bell commented in a Mashable story Monday on a report that the rate of mass loss of Antarctic ice is now greater by a factor of 6 than it was in the 1980s (https://mashable.com/article/antarctica-ice-sheets-melting-study/). Also on Monday, Brad Linsley was quoted in a CNN article on the accelerated warming of the oceans and its effect on changing rainfall patterns (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/12/health/warm-ocean-effects-intl/index.html). A Róisín Commane comment appeared in an Inside Climate News story Wednesday on the increased release of greenhouse gases by warming permafrost regions in the Arctic (https://insideclimatenews.org/news/16012019/permafrost-thaw-climate-change-temperature-data-arctic-antarctica-mountains-study). Also on Wednesday, Lex van Geen was quoted in a Geographical article on arsenic contamination of well water in Bangladesh (http://geographical.co.uk/people/development/item/3016-arsenic-poisoning). Susan Hellauer’s “Earth Matters” column in Nyack News and Views Wednesday was an interview with Andy Juhl on his work documenting the persistence of sewage-related bacteria in Hudson River sediments (https://nyacknewsandviews.com/2019/01/earth-matters-sediment-pollution-juhl-interview/). A story in Juneau Empire yesterday described Rosanne D’Arrigo’s presentation last month at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting on “Alaska’s year without a summer,” the result of the Laki eruption of 1783 (https://www.juneauempire.com/news/the-year-without-summer/).
Whether you prefer to contemplate the warming of ice sheets and permafrost or global cooling by a major volcanic eruption, may you enjoy the three-day weekend ahead, even if it is punctuated by weather appropriate to the first full month of northern winter.