Lamont Weekly Report, June 2, 2017

    This week will be remembered for President Trump’s announcement yesterday that the United States will withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, a move that the Editorial Board of The New York Times ( lamented has “dismayed America’s allies, defied the wishes of much of the American business community he pretends to help, threatened America’s competitiveness as well as job growth in crucial industries and squandered what was left of America’s claim to leadership on an issue of global importance.” Media stories on the impact of U.S. withdrawal from the pact lit up the web. Park Williams was quoted in one story ( in Insurance Business Magazine, and Peter deMenocal was quoted in another on Live Science (

    But there was news at Lamont this week to savor rather than appall.

    Gisela Winckler learned this week that her proposal to Columbia University’s President’s Global Innovation Fund has been selected for funding. The PGIF “supports projects and scholarly collaborations for research, teaching and service within and across the University’s eight global center sites.” Gisela’s proposal, entitled “Dust, climate and health impact: Past-present-future,” addresses the influence of windborne dust on Earth’s climate system and human health and is in partnership with the Columbia Global Center in Santiago, Chile. Gisela writes, “The project will bring together Earth scientists and public and environmental health scientists from Columbia University and the Chilean science community to discuss the societally relevant problem of climate and health impacts of dust and other aerosols of natural and anthropogenic origin.” Collaborators include Mike Kaplan, Beizhan Yan, Darby Jack from the Mailman School of Public Health, and Chilean colleagues. 

    Kevin Griffin and Park Williams are collaborators on a second project selected for a PGIF award on the “Causes, consequences, and prevention of wildfires in Chile.” The project, also planned in cooperation with the Columbia Global Center in Santiago, is led by Don Melnick from the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology. Park visited Chile last month to give talks on his wildfire work in the western U.S.

    The R/V Langseth departed Honolulu on Saturday to begin an expedition to study marine microbiological processes across environmental gradients in the Pacific Ocean off Hawaii. Sean Higgins writes that the ship’s crew and science party are “doing well after settling into a routine of station work, supporting lab work in multiple labs and spaces, and getting towed systems all up and going. The crew and techs have done a great job making this all happen.”

    On Wednesday, Science Advances published a paper by Aaron Putnam and Wally Broecker on the likely effects of atmospheric warming on the global pattern of precipitation. On the basis of paleoclimate evidence and recent trends in seasonal surface heating between the northern and southern hemispheres, Aaron and Wally predict that during boreal summers, the rate of surface heating in the two hemispheres will continue to be similar, wet areas will become wetter, and dry areas will become drier. During austral summers, in contrast, the hemispheres will heat differently, and rain belts and dry areas will expand northwards. A press release on the paper’s findings has been posted on the Lamont web site (

    On Wednesday afternoon, the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences scheduled a rare double header, with two thesis defenses at overlapping times. Julius Busecke led off with a defense of his thesis on “Surface eddy mixing in the global subtropics” before a committee that consisted of Ryan Abernathey, Arnold Gordon, Andreas Thurnherr, Frank Bryan from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Tom Farrar from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Next at bat was Logan Brenner, who defended her thesis on “Paleoceanographic-proxy development in Scleractinia (stony corals) throughout the Pacific Ocean: Exploring the variable utility of stable isotopes and trace metals in oceanographic reconstructions” before a committee that included Bob Anderson, Peter deMenocal, Hugh Ducklow, Brad Linsley, and Don Potts from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Two up, two hits. To Drs. Busecke and Brenner, congratulations!

    On Thursday, Nature Communications published a paper coauthored by Frank Nitsche reporting evidence for a subglacial lake on the Antarctic continental shelf during the last glacial period. The paper, led by Gerhard Kuhn from the Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, describes evidence from a submarine core from a bedrock basin in Pine Island Bay, Amundsen Sea, in an area where previous geomorphologic work had suggested the former existence of a network of subglacial lakes and channels. On the basis of sediment facies and modeling, the group demonstrated that the sediments were deposited in a freshwater environment, a result confirming that the subglacial meltwater network was active during the last glacial period. A press release on the paper can be found on our web site (

    In other media coverage this week, Robin Bell was quoted in a story Saturday on Digital Journal ( on the discovery, from GPS measurements, of a solitary wave in the summertime movement of Rink Glacier in western Greenland. On Sunday, Adventure Science posted a podcast of an interview with Maureen Raymo ( on her career spent studying paleoclimate and sea level. On Tuesday, a new video of Richard Seager ( and his work on droughts in southwestern North America, part of the series of videos on “people at the Earth Institute, what they do, and why they do it,” was added to our web site.

    The message on our lead homepage banner image – The Earth Cannot Be Silenced – seems particularly appropriate today. May you hear, and see, our planet in a new light this weekend.