Lamont Weekly Report, July 17, 2020

    Hello Friends,  As we migrate into the heart of summer, Lamont continues to slowly reopen.  Hopefully everyone is comfortable with the new procedures and protocols being put in place, all designed to keep us safe and healthy.  Continued thanks to our Lamont COVID committee, the Associate Directors, the building and grounds team, the security and cleaning teams, our bus drivers (Eddie! A herpetological hero!), and everyone else that is making these steps towards “the new different” possible.  And I continue to be impressed every week—in my meetings on downtown committees—with the care, thoughtfulness, and sheer force of interdisciplinary intellect that is being thrown at campus COVID-19 planning. 

    I’ve had a busy week of meetings, but the most relevant here were those with the MGG division, the postdocs, and a group of DEI advocates.  Thank you all for the great feedback that is informing our joint engagement and my path forward as Lamont director.  I also had a briefing on the Lamont website redesign/rebuild spearheaded by the Development Office.  This huge project is moving forward and I am 100% confident that we will all be much happier next year with our new “portal” to the world and each other.  It might not surprise you to hear that Open House planning, for a multi-day virtual event, is also getting underway. The event will be held beginning October 17th and will feature live panels, interactive demonstrations and much more.  The Earth Institute events team will be in touch with committee members over the coming days to begin planning.

    With respect to presentations, past and future, I’d like to give a shout-out to Jonny Kingslake, who was featured by the Columbia at Home Series sponsored by the Columbia Alumni Association on July 15th.  His talk about his adventures on Antarctica was especially engaging as the event was designed for families with younger attendees.  I am sure there are a few dozen more budding scientists in the world today because of his exciting presentation.  And speaking of inspiring future scientists, almost a 100 people tuned in today for a special OCP seminar by Veeshan "Vee" Narinesingh, a physics PhD student at the City University of New York who spoke about: Ideas for STEM Outreach with Kids from the Real NYC.  Finally, I announced the “save the date” for our first Summer Stars Lecturer, Cristina Mittermeier, who will present a talk titled "The Thin Blue Line: Life on the Water’s Edge" on July 28 at 3pm. 

    Last Friday Julia Tejada successfully defended her PhD on “Testing foundational tenets of stable isotope ecology analyses in neotropical mammalian communities, and implications for terrestrial paleoecology” and is off to start a postdoc in Montpelier, France.  Congratulations Julia!  The Ocean and Climate Physics division welcomed two Postdoctoral Research Scientists recently—Elisabeth (“Lisa”) Kago Iboudo Nébié and Fabien Cottier. Lisa received a PhD in Anthropology from UNC Chapel Hill and Fabien received his in Political Science from the University of Geneva. Richard Seager writes, “Lisa and Fabien will be working with myself, Alex de Sherbinin of CIESIN, Wolfram Schlenker of SIPA, Michael Puma of CCSR and Sonali McDermid and Andrew Bell of NYU on an NSF-funded project to disentangle the social, political, economic and environmental drivers of migration in West Africa.” He adds, “I believe Lisa and Fabien might be the first social scientists to join OCP (and maybe Lamont).  They are both conversant across social, environmental and climate matters and will be a great addition to Lamont enriching our research community with their backgrounds in human-environment interactions.”  Welcome Lisa and Fabien!

    Some more research news tidbits…Kerstin Lehnert was invited to be a member of NOAA’s Data Archiving and Access Requirements Working Group (DAARWG). DAARWG is a subcommittee that provides guidance and recommendations across NOAA on issues related to data and software. Kerstin is looking for ideas and feedback from NOAA data users to bring back to the working group. She was also elected the next chair of the Council of Data Facilities yesterday, an important role to play in the context of NSF funding for data facilities. At the same time, CIESIN was voted in to the CDF as its newest member.  #LamontLeads

    An even bigger tidbit, more like a giant delicious muffin from Bunbury’s, is the news that Lamont bought the R/V Marcus G. Langseth from the National Science Foundation, continuing Columbia University’s history as the only sea-faring Ivy League institution.  From the NSF announcement this morning, “This change in ownership means that Langseth will continue to operate as a critical asset in the U.S. Academic Research Fleet (ARF) through 2024.  It also provides the vessel operator greater flexibility to attract additional work through an expanded user base thereby potentially increasing overall vessel utilization. For over 65 years, L-DEO has been exemplary in its stewardship of geophysical research vessels starting with R/V Vema, and including Conrad, Ewing, and currently Langseth. L-DEO has leveraged their unique combination of multi-channel seismic instrumentation, multibeam mapping capability, and technical experience to address the critical research questions in earth science and have done so while continually evolving the instrumentation and acquisition strategy to enhance understanding of our planet’s geologic structure.”  The Langseth will also serve as a university educational facility allowing students to “experience the hands-on aspects of their trade (and) nurture the development of the next generation of scientists”.  As you might suspect, a transaction of this magnitude was quite complex and, while the efforts of many people were involved, probably the greatest credit goes to Sean Higgins who is the Director of Lamont’s Office of Marine Operations.  Thank you and congratulations Admiral Higgins!

    I’ll wrap up by asking if anyone else loved the book The Way Things Really Work, the parody of the David Macaulay book The Way Things Work?  I remember there being a “scientific” explanation for why it always rains on the weekend.  I’ve been thinking about this lately in the context of the numerous electrical outages we’ve had in Palisades this past month, most on stormy weekends.  It has been painful for those with sensitive instruments.  However, Cathy Troutman emailed the campus last week and again yesterday to inform us that the Lamont Campus Emergency Notification System has now been expanded to include an additional sub-group for those who would like to be notified of power issues on campus. If you are already subscribed to the LDEO Emergency Notification System you can simply email Cathy a request to be added to this sub-group. If you are not already subscribed to the LDEO Emergency Notification System, you can do so by visiting the registration website.  Please be sure to subscribe as soon as possible.

    Wishing you all a peaceful relaxing weekend.  Best, Mo

    p.s. The Piermont Pier has reopened to the public and the Field Station instruments measured the Hudson River water temperature at 85°F this past week.  Low oxygen levels are causing widespread fish mortality, mostly of menhaden (a type of fish I had never heard of before).







New Study: Lead Exposure from Notre Dame Fire Worse than First Thought

Catholic News Service 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Article on research by Lamont geochemist Lex van Geen.


Ancient Sea Levels in South Africa May Offer Modern Analogues


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Article on research co-authored by Lamont scientists Alessio Rovere, Robert Sandstrom, and Maureen Raymo.


Freshwater in the Seabed: An Opportunity for Creative Solutions

Advanced Science News

Monday, July 13, 2020

Article cites research by Lamont geophysicists Chloe Gustafson and Kerry Key.


New Climate Study Signals Faster-Moving Hurricanes for Texas

Fox News

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Article on research by Lamont climate scientists Chia-Ying Lee and Suzana Camargo.


Notre Dame Cathedral Fire Deposited Nearly One Ton of Lead throughout Paris


Friday, July 10, 2020

Article on research by Lamont geochemist Lex van Geen.


She’s an Authority on Earth’s Past. Now, Her Focus Is the Planet’s Future.

The New York Times 

Friday, July 10, 2020

Article features Lamont interim director and paleoclimatologist Maureen Raymo.


Columbia University Launches New School Focused on Climate Change


Friday, July 10, 2020

Article on creation of Climate School at Columbia.



Groundbreaking Project Will Drill Into Bedrock Below Greenland Ice to Understand Past and Future Melting

July 16, 2020

GreenDrill promises to reveal the ice sheet’s past in unprecedented detail and enable more accurate predictions of how it may add to rising seas in the 21st century.


Why Do We Need a Climate School?

July 13, 2020

Climate change is already part of the curricula across Columbia, but we can make a bigger difference by working together.


Understanding and Predicting Hurricanes in a Warmer World

July 13, 2020

Scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory use models and observations to understand tropical storms and advance the science of predicting them.


Columbia to Establish a Climate School to Meet the Challenges of a Warming World

July 10, 2020

The Columbia Climate School will provide the education, research, and global partnerships needed to create and maintain a sustainable society.