Lamont Weekly Report, June 15, 2018

    Yesterday, a beautiful late spring day, was Flag Day, and those of us who commuted to Lamont from New York City were greeted en route by a giant American flag hanging from the western tower of the George Washington Bridge.

    I’m pleased to report that Samer Naif will join the Observatory’s research faculty next month as a Lamont Assistant Research Professor. A marine geophysicist, Samer adds expertise in the imaging of subsurface structure at plate boundaries and in oceanic lithosphere with magnetotelluric, controlled-source electromagnetic, and active-source seismic methods. He obtained his Ph.D. in 2015 from the University of California, San Diego. As a Lamont Postdoctoral Fellow for the past three years, Samer has worked on the concentration of water in the oceanic upper mantle, electrical properties of hydrous olivine, controls on megathrust earthquake ruptures in subduction zones, and hydration of the oceanic crust at the outer rise seaward of subductions zones.

    Alberto Malinverno’s paper last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, coauthored with Stephen Meyers from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and reporting Milankovitch-cycle measurements from rocks laid down as far back as 1.4 billion-years ago, inspired a poem by science communication specialist Sam Illingworth at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom. The poem, a Spenserian stanza, has been posted with the author’s permission on the Lamont web site (

    On Tuesday, the National Academies released their report on Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The 310-page report ( warrants everyone’s attention, but the 12-page Summary should be required reading. The report makes the powerful case that universities have failed to prevent sexual harassment in the sciences and related fields and that the issue must be addressed through changes in institutional culture ( The report’s specific recommendations will be discussion topics at future meetings of Lamont’s Associate Directors and Executive Committee to identify those steps needed to ensure that the Observatory’s culture, on campus and in the field, is consistently one of inclusiveness and mutual respect and support.

    Also on Tuesday, Lamont distributed electronically the June issue of our monthly newsletter ( Under the theme “Lamont on the frontline,” the issue includes links to five articles on Lamont science or scientists – including two stories on Einat Lev’s first-hand observations of Kilauea’s ongoing eruption – a story on Lamont Advisory Board member Dan Bennett, an education piece on Lamont’s partnership with Grace Church School on the development of a course in science communication, and 11 media stories from the last month about Lamont research.

    That same day, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science marked up and reported out the fiscal 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which includes funding for a number of the federal science agencies. Joel Widder from Federal Science Partners reports that the bill includes $8.1 billion for the National Science Foundation ($301 million above the 2018 enacted level), $21.3 billion for NASA ($587 million above the 2018 level), but only $5.48 billion for NOAA ($426 million less than the 2018 level). The Senate bill moved to the full Appropriations Committee yesterday. The House Appropriations Committee has already marked up and reported out their version of the bill, sending it to the full House. Passage of the two versions by both chambers will send the bill to a conference committee to resolve differences and report a single version back to the House and Senate for a final vote later this year or early next year.

    On Wednesday, Nature magazine posted a paper by Jonny Kingslake, Martin Wearing, and their collaborators reporting that since the Last Glacial Maximum the West Antarctic Ice Sheet first retreated and then advanced by several hundred kilometers to its current position as a result of isostatic rebound in response to reduced ice loading. One line of evidence for this history of the ice shelf grounding line comes from radiocarbon dating of subglacial sediments indicating that a portion of the sediment organic carbon over a broad area was laid down in sub-ice-shelf conditions. Ice-penetrating radar observations of englacial structures indicative of ice-shelf grounding provide a second line of evidence for the inferred glacial history. An implication of their result is that lithospheric rebound can serve at least partially to offset ice sheet retreat during a warming climate, albeit on a time scale of millennia rather than decades or centuries. A Sarah Fecht press release on the paper’s findings has been posted on the Lamont web site (, and National Geographic and other media picked up the story (

    Yesterday, Lamont hosted a visit by about two dozen journalists who were participating in the Energy Journalism Initiative at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy ( The journalists were joined by Bill Loveless, Director of the Energy Journalism Initiative, and Jason Bordoff, Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy. The group was given a half-day tour of Lamont, including a stop at the Core Repository led by Nichole Anest, a presentation on Lamont’s carbon sequestration programs by Dave Goldberg, a visit to the IcePod lab led by Nick Frearson, a stop at the Tree-Ring Lab led by Dan Bishop, a presentation in the Seismic Sound Lab by Ben Holtzman, and a visit to the Ocean and Climate Physics Visualization Lab led by Ryan Abernathey. Meghan Fay, Susan Holgate, Marie Aronsohn, Marian Mellin, and the Earth Institute’s Kevin Krajick participated in the tour.

    Today, Lamont will be visited by Allan Gray, Vice-President of Marine Technical Support at CGG, the French-based geophysical services company. The visit has been scheduled in large part to provide an opportunity to thank CGG for their gift to Lamont of $2.6 million worth of marine seismic data acquisition equipment (

    One week from next Monday, Christine McCarthy will be appearing in “A Survivor’s Guide to the New Goldilocks Zone,” billed by the Talks Progress Administration as “a mad science experiment on stage,…[the] pairing [of] academic lecturers with theater directors to see what they’ll make together” ( Christine plays a flight attendant on a space ship filled with colonists – the audience – bound for another world (’ve-been-chosen-colonize-new-world).

    In the meantime. may you enjoy the continued spring weather this weekend on this world, before hints of summer creep in on Monday.