Lamont Weekly Report, March 17, 2017

     As if to mock Columbia University’s Spring Recess, this week was punctuated by a major snowstorm Tuesday that left more than 7 inches of snow in Central Park, dropped greater totals of frozen precipitation in surrounding areas, and closed the Observatory for a full day. Thanks, however, to the daylong efforts on Tuesday of our Facilities staff – Larry Palumbo, Bob Daly, Bruce Baez, Carmine Caviliere, Tony DeLoatch, Charles Jones, Ray Slavin, Eric Soto, Kevin Sullivan, Richard Trubiroha, and Chano Williams – the snow was cleared from our roads and pathways in time for us to open normally the next day.

     Einat Lev learned the good news this week that she will receive a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation. According to NSF (, “The CAREER Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization.” Einat’s award, to be managed by NSF’s Petrology and Geochemistry Program, was made in response to her proposal on “Investigating the impact of temporal and spatial variations on lava emplacement through numerical and physical models.” Congratulations, Einat!

     On Monday and Tuesday, Lamont graduate students in seismology and marine geophysics hosted the fifth annual Seismology Student Workshop. The program consisted of oral and poster presentations on a wide range of research related to seismology and earthquake studies, as well as short talks on methodologies and career experiences. A total of 41 students from universities across North America attended the event. The goal of the workshop was to allow students to share their science, discuss research techniques, and build connections with peers at other institutions. The workshop was organized by Genevieve Coffey, Helen Janiszewski, Tierney Larson, Rachel Marzen, and Kira Olsen and was supported by the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Chevron Student Initiative Fund. Helen wrote, “We are extremely grateful [as well] for the time and resources provided by the Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics Division, especially for supporting the relocation of the second day of the workshop after winter storm Stella closed Lamont.”

     From Wednesday to Friday, Lamont hosted a workshop on reconstructions of the partial atmospheric pressure of carbon dioxide during the Cenozoic ( Local organizers included Kelsey Dyez, Bärbel Hönisch, and Pratigya Polissar. Bärbel wrote, “The Cenozoic paleo-pCO2 workshop brought together 50 U.S. and international experts on reconstructing paleo-CO2 and temperature from terrestrial and marine archives and on modeling. Several invitees had to cancel their on-site participation because of Tuesday's blizzard, but thanks to Phil Fitzpatrick they were able to follow the workshop remotely. Reports about remote participation were very positive, so this places a good example for how our carbon footprint may be reduced for future meetings. The main outcomes of the workshop include the design of a community-vetted, open-source paleo-pCO2 database, which will contribute to the next IPCC report.”

      Yesterday, the White House released a “skinny” version of the President’s budget for fiscal year 2018. The budget matched early reports of deep cuts to the proposed budgets for the Environmental Protection Agency and Earth science programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA. No mention was made of the National Science Foundation, but given the broad reductions to the non-defense discretionary budget, the Foundation is expecting cuts comparable to those of other science agencies (e.g., the National Institutes of Health). A Chris Mooney story in The Washington Post yesterday summarized the extreme contrasts between the Trump and Obama administrations in their attitudes toward and policies on climate change and clean energy ( Federal budgets, of course, are crafted and passed by Congress, not the Executive Branch, and Appropriations Committees are presently focused on government spending in fiscal year 2017 beyond the late-April deadline of the current continuing resolution. But we as a community have our work cut out for us to work with our Capitol Hill colleagues to ensure that federal science agencies are funded at levels sufficient to continue U.S. leadership across the sciences.

     On Thursday evening, Farhana Mather, Adam Sobel, and I attended a cocktail reception hosted by Lamont Advisory Board member Jeffrey Gould and his wife Lenore at their home in Sarasota, Florida. The theme of the reception was Extreme Weather and Climate, and Adam was the featured speaker. About 30 guests invited by the Goulds came to hear about our Extreme Weather and Climate Initiative and ask questions about climate change, extreme events, and their local and regional impacts.

     The American Geophysical Union last week posted a statement by Robin Bell, AGU’s President-Elect this year and next, on her vision for the Union over the next several years ( Jason Smerdon was quoted in an Esquire story Sunday on the current heyday for U.S. climate change deniers ( The Associated Press ( and The Huffington Post ( interviewed Joaquim Goes and Helga Gomes for stories Wednesday on Noctiluca blooms in the Arabian Sea and elsewhere.

     Tomorrow, Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History will host a Sun-Earth Day (, and a number of Lamont scientists will participate. Nichole Anest writes, “There will be a bunch of us Lamonters with displays and activities, so come by and visit!”

     Notwithstanding the local weather this week, next week will include the official start of spring. May you enjoy the last weekend of this year’s winter.