Lamont Weekly Report, June 25, 2021

     Hello Friends,  Hope you all had a lovely three-day weekend for Juneteenth last week. Lots of announcements have been piling up!  On Tuesday, Lucy Tweed successfully defended her PhD on “Coupling the Thermodynamics, Kinetics and Geodynamics of Multiphase Reactive Transport in Earth’s Interior”. Lucy’s immediate plans are getting her chapters submitted as papers, and start applying for postdoctoral fellowships.  Congratulations Lucy!  Thank you also to Mingfang Ting for inviting me to the OCP group’s outdoor celebration of Yochanan Kushnir’s retirement and Arlene Fiore’s move to MIT.  Also feted was Jane Baldwin, a Lamont postdoc fellow who is leaving for a tenure-track Assistant Professor position at UC Irvine. I was also delighted to meet, in person, Robert Pincus—a newly hired LRP in the OCP division.  He is an expert in atmospheric radiative transfer and will be officially starting on July 1.

     On Wednesday, Robin Bell hosted a visit from Randy Fiser, AGU’s CEO and Executive Director since August of 2020.  He was deeply impressed with the diversity of scholarship on the campus. Thanks to everyone who engaged with his visit and especially to all the students and post-docs who showed up for cookies and coffee on the lawn.  He really enjoyed engaging with you and hearing your concerns.  Also this week, Ajit Subramaniam was re-elected to serve on the Board of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO).  #lamontleads.  In addition, Columbia's second Managed Retreat Conference has clearly met a community need, with more than 950 registrants, including more than 80 journalists and close to 300 speakers. The four-day conference featured over 50 sessions on topics as varied as: decolonizing research, non-coastal hazards, receiving communities, lessons learned in Northwest Europe, photography and the arts, migration modeling, finance, and infrastructure.  Radley Horton reports that two already-evident takeaways are that, 1) a stronger focus on climate justice issues has brought added energy to the conference, and 2) participation across the government and non-profit sectors this year matched that from academia.  Thank you, Radley, for sending this summary and for organizing such an impactful conference!

     I am happy to announce that we will be hosting the virtual Summer Stars Lecture Series again this year. The Summer Stars Lecture Series will feature three inspiring speakers whose work focuses squarely on the intersection of our humanity, nature, sustainability, and the Earth.  The first event in the series will take place on July 15 at 4:00 PM, and will feature John Cook, Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Climate Change Communication Research Hub at Monash University. John is the founder of the Skeptical Science website, one I have valued as a handy resource for years, and I look forward to his talk.  Invite your cranky uncle!  Registration required.

     Thank you to Bob Anderson who followed up on the-how-many-oceans question.  He writes that Dave Karl of the University of Hawaii led the effort in the late 1980s or early 1990s to have the Southern Ocean designated by name as a unique ocean.  “He applied to whatever international body it is that is officially responsible for such names, and as I remember they agreed that the Southern Ocean should be considered as a separate ocean.  [In] that sense, Earth has had five oceans thanks to Dave Karl. However, the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), the international nongovernmental organization that oversees Geotraces, considers earth to have just one ocean because they are all interconnected. So perhaps a more appropriate question is not whether the earth has four oceans or five, but does earth have one ocean or five?”  Equally perplexing is, if it is one, what is that ocean’s name?

     I was reading a letter of recommendation in a postdoc dossier this week and the writer, now a professor of Earth sciences in California, ended her letter by saying, “I became a geologist because I was so inspired at age 10 when I went to a Lamont Doherty open house! Not kidding! I hope that you still do these and if so, [person X] would be a great asset!”  That made my day. And more good news, the hiring freeze is lifted!  Hooray!  And full retirement contributions for officers of research and administration will be restored in a month!  Hip Hip Hooray! 

     Many exciting research stories can be found below and, unfortunately, I won’t have time to read them all until this weekend.  However, Jonny Kingslake did give me a heads up about a new GRL paper that graduate student Julian Spergel and he are co-authors on. Kevin Krajick put together a State of the Planet blog post on it here. The paper reports some incredible satellite observations of the drainage of a large meltwater lake through an Antarctic Ice Shelf.  A very cool effect of the lake drainage was that the ice shelf rebounded upwards as the weight of the water was removed from the floating ice. This, in turn, had an effect on the surface hydrology and led to the formation of a new channel incised downwards through the ice surface as a lake created by the rebound overtopped the rebounded ice dam.  The paper uses two new high-resolution datasets (IceSAT-2 and WorldView imagery) and Jonny went on to say “the level of detail they provide into these processes is just incredible – it actually sent a shiver down my spine the first time I saw the final version of the figures and it struck me how beautiful these data are!”  I look forward to reading this paper on bouncing ice sheets.   #dataisbeautiful

     Finally, Dave Walker writes in his own patois:

     “funny you should say about goslings
     none on the lower sparkill this year in contrast
     to previous years with several sets
     have only seen 4 individuals on the pier and none at ldeo
     the carp are also very late to return to the sparkill
     have only seen one so far this year - last week”

     It’s almost poetry. And, hmm, an ecological mystery is obviously afoot.  But even though no baby geese espied on campus (to my knowledge), I’ve seen a turkey hen with twelve poults, a doe with a baby fawn, and a land beaver/woodchuck/groundhog/whistle-pig with a chuckling/pup/kit outside of Monell in the last week.  And of course, lots of kittens* straying from their fluffle.  Have I mentioned I love the internet?

     Enjoy tonight’s potentially stunning strawberry moon rise.  I will be watching it with a number of my nautically-inclined Lamont colleagues, who have kindly invited me to a viewing party at the Nyack Yacht Club (which also runs tremendous community sailing programs). 

     Best, Mo

*baby rabbits








How Heat Waves Form, and How Climate Change Makes Them Worse


June 24, 2021

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Jane W. Baldwin.


Sea-Level Rise - What's Coming, and How Business Can Help Minimise It - a Chat with Prof Maureen Raymo

Climate 21

June 23, 2021

Interview with Columbia Climate School co-founding dean and Lamont director Maureen Raymo.


Signs of Geological Activity Found on Venus

BBC News

June 22, 2021

Article on study co-authored by Lamont geophysicist Sean Solomon.


As Seas Rise, Coastal Communities Face Hard Choices Over 'Managed Retreat'

Thomson Reuters Foundation

June 22, 2021

Article references Columbia Climate School conference co-chaired by Lamont climate scientist Radley Horton.


Scientists Might Have Spotted Tectonic Activity Inside Venus

MIT Technology Review

June 21, 2021

Article on study co-authored by Lamont geophysicist Sean Solomon.


The Hill's Equilibrium: Should We Stay or Should We Go?

The Hill

June 21, 2021

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Radley Horton.


'Managed Retreat' from Climate Disasters Can Reinvent Cities so They’re Better for Everyone – and Avoid More Flooding, Heat and Fires

The Conversation

June 21, 2021

Article references Columbia Climate School conference co-chaired by Lamont climate scientist Radley Horton.


How a Heat Dome Is Pushing Extreme Temperatures to New Heights in the West

Washington Post

June 18, 2021

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Jane W. Baldwin.


Why Venus Is Soon to Be the Most Exciting Place in the Solar System


June 18, 2021

Article quotes Lamont volcanologist Einat Lev.


What Tree Rings Reveal about America's Megadrought


June 17, 2021

Article features research by Lamont scientists Park Williams, Edward Cook, Jason Smerdon, Benjamin Cook, Kasey Bolles, Seung Baek, and colleagues.


'Megadrought' in West Directly Linked to Climate Change, Experts Say

ABC News

June 17, 2021

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Richard Seager.


Assessing Human Habitability and Migration


June 17, 2021

Commentary by Lamont climate scientist Radley Horton, CIESIN geographer Alex de Sherbinin, and colleagues.


Doubling Earth's Energy Imbalance


June 17, 2021

Interview with Lamont climate scientist Richard Seager (15:46-27:05).


Is the American West in a Megadrought?

The Economist

June 15, 2021

Article quotes and cites research by Lamont climate scientist Jason Smerdon with Park Williams, Edward Cook, Benjamin Cook, Kasey Bolles, Seung Baek, and colleagues.


Magma Pockets Lie Stacked Beneath Juan de Fuca Ridge


June 14, 2021

Article features study led by Lamont marine geophysicist Suzanne Carbotte.


Ice Shelf Disintegration Accelerating Pine Island Glacier Descent Toward Sea


June 11, 2021

Article features study co-authored by Lamont and British Antarctic Survey oceanographer Pierre Dutrieux.


Are We Prepared for Earthquakes in Sylhet?

The Daily Observer

June 11, 2021

Article by Lamont visiting scholar Md. Shofiqul Islam.


Carbon Levels Hit Historic High Despite the Pandemic and Recession

Wisconsin Public Radio

June 11, 2021

Interview with Lamont oceanographer and carbon cycle scientist Galen McKinley.




Which Areas Will Climate Change Render Uninhabitable? Climate Models Alone Cannot Say

June 17, 2021

Understanding how people will respond to climate dangers depends not only on top-down data, but also on bottom-up community engagement.


Explore This Map of Land and Sea Features Named After Trailblazers at Lamont

June 14, 2021

The legacies of many of our researchers are recorded not only in the history books, but also in the mountains, canyons, and islands that now bear their names.