Lamont Weekly Report, June 14, 2019

    I am pleased to report that, as a result of successfully completing their Developmental Reviews this spring, Christine McCarthy and Nicolás Young will be promoted to Lamont Associate Research Professor, Junior Staff, effective July. Please join me in congratulating Christine and Nicolás on their new rank!

    Lamont alumnus and former staff member Garry Karner, now a senior researcher at ExxonMobil, wrote this week that he was awarded the 2018 Flinders University Convocation Medal ( In its citation for the medal, Flinders University – Garry’s undergraduate institution – wrote that the award was given “for the leadership and advancement of fundamental geological research, and the advancement of professional practice through development of the Quantitative Basin Analysis software. He is also a relentless champion and mentor of young research scientists.” The award was made in Adelaide earlier this year. Kudos to Garry!

    Yesterday, the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences hosted a Ph.D. double header. At 10 am, Max Cunningham launched the defense of his thesis on the “Glacial limitation of tropical mountain height.” In addition to his thesis supervisor, Mike Kaplan, Max’s committee included Göran Ekström, Jonny Kingslake, Joerg Schaefer, and William Ouimet from the Department of Geography at the University of Connecticut.

    Just 30 minutes later, Darren McKee began the defense of his Ph.D. thesis on “Intraseasonal circulation of the western Antarctic Peninsula shelf with implications for shelf-slope exchange,” supervised by Doug Martinson. In addition to Doug, Darren’s committee included Pierre Dutrieux, Arnold Gordon, Xiaojun Yuan, and Carlos Moffat from the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment at the University of Delaware.

    Congratulations to Drs. Cunningham and McKee!

    The Ocean and Climate Physics Division has welcomed several new arrivals recently. Postdoctoral Research Scientist Roberto Suárez Moreno joined Lamont from the Universidad de Complutense de Madrid, where he most recently worked in a postdoctoral position on climate predictability in the Atlantic sector with Elsa Harris and Belén Rodríguez de Fonseca. Roberto holds a 2017 Ph.D. from the same university, where his thesis was on teleconnections between the oceans and precipitation in the Sahel. At Lamont, he will work with Richard Seager, Yochanan Kushnir, Ed Cook, and Naomi Henderson on hydroclimate variability across the Mediterranean region.

    Kai Kornhuber arrived in OCP this month to join the research group of Radley Horton as an Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellow. Kai received his Ph.D. in climate physics from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the University of Potsdam, and he just completed a one-year postdoctoral post at the University of Oxford. His research interests include the atmospheric dynamics of mid-latitude extreme events and the impacts on agriculture of concurrent extreme weather events. At Lamont, Kai will investigate the future risk of simultaneous extreme events in breadbasket regions under different warming scenarios.

    Also new to OCP and Radley’s research group this week is Staff Associate Anna Lopresti. Anna, who received her undergraduate degree from Columbia and a Masters degree from the University of Oxford, studies adaptation in a variety of national and international contexts.

    The Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics Division recently welcomed Lamont Postdoctoral Fellow Seth Saltiel. Seth holds a 2017 Ph.D. from Berkeley, where his thesis – conducted under the supervision of Bruce Buffett, Jonathan Ajo-Franklin, and Brian Bonner – was on the in situ determination of stress and frictional conditions of reservoir fractures from low-frequency shear anelasticity. He held a postdoctoral position in the Environmental and Applied Geophysics Laboratory at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory before spending time most recently at the University of Chile. At Lamont, Seth will be working in the rock and ice mechanics lab with Christine McCarthy to advance our understanding of the mechanical controls on the spectrum of slip behavior at the base of ice streams.

    A fringe benefit of Seth’s arrival is that his spouse, hydrogeologist and volcanologist Carolina Munoz-Saez, will also spend time at the Observatory. Carolina holds a 2016 Ph.D., similarly from Berkeley, on the dynamics of the El Tatio geyser field in Chile – the third largest geyser field in the world – completed under the supervision of Michael Manga. Carolina, at Lamont as a Visiting Scientist, currently holds a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Geology at the University of Chile.

    From Wednesday to Friday, Columbia hosted the 2019 New York Scientific Data Summit (, jointly organized by the Center for Computing Systems for Data-Driven Science at Columbia’s Data Science Institute and Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Computational Science Initiative. Ryan Abernathey delivered a presentation on the Pangeo project, Chia-Ying Lee coauthored a presentation on the rapid intensification of hurricanes, and Gavin Schmidt from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies gave a keynote talk on challenges in climate science.

    The Summer 2019 issue of Columbia Magazine contains two articles that feature science at Lamont. An article on pollution of the planet by plastic, particularly in the world’s oceans (, mentions the work of Joaquim Goes and Beizhan Yan documenting the proliferation of plastic microbeads from cosmetics and plastic microfibers from textiles in the waterways of the New York City area and the digestive systems of local marine life.

    The second story, tied to the 50th anniversary next month of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon, is about the many Lamont scientists who led the geophysical and geochemical exploration of the Moon at that time (  The article begins with a description of the Apollo seismic experiments, which involved alumnus and staff member Gary Latham, alumnus Bob Kovach, alumnus and former faculty member Frank Press, director Maurice Ewing, and others. The text goes on to mention the analyses of lunar samples at Lamont by mineral physicist Orson Anderson and geochemist Paul Gast. Although not described in the article, later missions would include the Apollo 15-17 heat flow experiments, led by Mark Langseth, and a traverse gravimeter on the Apollo 17 rover, led by Manik Talwani.

    Lamont’s web site gained several notable additions this week. Brad Linsley was interviewed in a CGTN story posted last Saturday on warming, acidification, and pollution in the oceans ( On Sunday, Person Place Thing posted a podcast of a discussion, recorded at an event two months ago, between Einat Lev and host Randy Cohen ( Adam Sobel was interviewed about weather, hurricanes, and climate on Sea Change Radio on Tuesday ( On Wednesday, Rebecca Fowler posted a short video that Elizabeth Case and Jonny Kingslake produced to showcase their fieldwork last summer on an icefield near Juneau, Alaska ( Also on Wednesday, Sarah Fecht completed a story about the Correlated Extremes Workshop two weeks ago that was organized by Radley Horton and Colin Raymond and hosted by Columbia’s Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate (

    May everyone have an enjoyable weekend, one devoted at least in part to the myriad important connections between fathers and their children.