Lamont Weekly Report, March 8, 2019

    For the third week in a row, the Lamont community was saddened by the loss of a long-term member. Paleoclimatologist Andrew McIntyre passed away on Saturday. Andy was a double alumnus of Columbia University, with a B.S. in 1954 and a Ph.D. in 1967. His first position at Columbia after college, in 1959, was as an Assistant in Sedimentation and Invertebrate Paleoecology, Biostratigraphy and Geomorphology. After several instructor posts, he held the position of Research Scientist at Lamont until he completed his doctorate. A member of the faculty of Queens College of the City University of New York from 1967 until his retirement in 1996, Andy held a simultaneous adjunct position at Lamont, where he maintained his lab for much of that period. He kept his Adjunct Senior Research Scientist position at the Observatory until 2001.

    Jim Hays wrote, “[At Columbia, Andy was first] a student of Norman Newell and did his early graduate research work in the Bahamas with Newell and [John] Imbrie. The lure of Lamont, however, caused him to migrate to the Palisades campus during his graduate student years, where he pioneered in studies of coccoliths using an electron microscope. [He] was an important contributor to the CLIMAP [Climate: Long range Investigation, Mapping, and Prediction] project, taking the lead in assembling the project’s first 18,000-year (18K) reconstruction of the world ocean’s summer and winter sea-surface temperature (SST). The publication of those data, for which Andy played such an important role in their assembly, is still being referenced some 43 years later. Those present in the early days of the CLIMAP project will never forget the excitement, expressed by an audible wow, when in Lamont Hall Andy and Bill Ruddiman first presented the North Atlantic 18K reconstruction. That reconstruction, based on foram and coccolith data, showed a dramatic departure of SSTs and circulation patterns from the North Atlantic of today. It was CLIMAP’s first reconstruction of any ocean area and remained the most dramatic departure from today’s conditions.

    “Andy had flare. During his graduate student years, he was the proud owner of an airplane. He flew this plane with his girlfriend, who was a co-owner, around the northeast on weekends. I once flew with him to Nantucket and remember little about Nantucket from that trip but much about the flight. Our low flight path provided magnificent views of the countryside that passed below. He was a skilled pilot, carefully checking the single engine aircraft and the latest weather reports before each take off, as we had to land a number of times during the trip to refuel. We returned home safely.”

    Wally Broecker continued to be in the thoughts of many this week. On Monday, NBC News ran a story about Wally’s last talk to a scientific audience, delivered from his apartment via Zoom, one week before his death, to a symposium on Climate Engineering held at Arizona State University and organized by Peter Schlosser ( Peter, Elizabeth Clark, and Lamont alumnus Jeff Severinghaus are quoted in the article. Science historian Ronald Doel wrote last weekend to remind Wally’s Lamont colleagues of the three-part oral history interview that Ron conducted with Wally in the mid-1990s; the transcripts of those interviews are posted online by the American Institute of Physics (

    Scientific progress at Lamont, on topics that would have interested both Andy and Wally, continued this week.

    On Monday, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published online a paper by Paul Olsen, Dennis Kent, Sean Kinney, and their collaborators on what they’ve dubbed the Geological Orrerey, a set of geological records of orbitally paced climate variations that track the dynamics of the solar system over hundreds of millions of years. From climate proxy and geochronologic measurements of core samples recovered from Early Mesozoic sedimentary deposits in the Newark Basin and Petrified Forest National Park, Paul and his colleagues resolved the frequencies of the precession of the perihelia of the inner planets and Jupiter for the period 200–220 million years ago. Except for the perihelion precession frequency for Jupiter, the frequencies they obtained differ significantly from modern values. Such information is not recoverable uniquely from dynamical solutions, because planetary orbital characteristics behave chaotically on timescales longer than about 60 million years. This work thus provides a step toward developing an empirical framework for charting the evolution of the solar system on longer timescales from the geological record. A Kevin Krajick interview of Paul was posted to our web site Monday (, and and other media have picked up the story (

    Harassment Awareness Month at Lamont kicked off this week with a workshop Monday led by Columbia University’s Ombuds Officer, Joan Waters, on “Having Difficult Conversations in the Workplace.” On Wednesday, Kuheli Dutt led a discussion on “Implicit Bias Awareness and Training.” On Wednesday of next week, there will be a workshop on “Bystander Intervention Training.” And Friday of next week will feature Lamont’s Annual Diversity Seminar, given by Erika Marin-Spiotta, an Associate Professor of Geography and an affiliate of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies; the Departments of Soil Science and Forest and Wildlife Ecology; and the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Erika’s seminar will be on the topic of “Building partnerships to transform workplace climate in geoscience.”

    On Tuesday, our web site gained a Sarah Fecht story on a new project led by Adam Sobel to estimate the effect of climate change on the frequency, maximum intensity, and trajectories of hurricanes in the North Atlantic and the Caribbean, both now and 10–20 years in the future ( Funding for the project comes from the Swiss Re Institute.

    Yesterday, The Cryosphere published a paper coauthored by Marco Tedesco reporting an analysis of atmospheric conditions associated with more than 300 rapid surface-melting events in Greenland over the period 1979–2012. The team, led by Marilena Oltmanns at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, showed from satellite and weather station observations that these melting events are initiated by precipitation from the cyclone-driven, southerly flow of warm, moist air. Increases in the frequency, duration, and areal extent of such melting has shifted the line between mass gain and mass loss in the ice sheet. The initiated melting more than doubled over the study period and accounted for more than one-fourth of the overall surface melt. A Kevin Krajick press release on the paper’s findings has been posted on our web site (, and the story has run on (  and other media sites.

    Yesterday, the March issue of Lamont’s electronic newsletter led off with a story about Radley Horton’s testimony last week to the House Subcommittee on the Environment ( Under the theme “Communicating the Urgency,” the issue includes six other stories on Lamont scientists and their work, a story on the new Master of Science degree program on Sustainability Science led by Lamont faculty, and links to 14 media stories over the past month that feature or cite Lamont scientists.

    Also yesterday, a story on Robin Bell by Climate and Society student Peter Deneen was posted on Lamont’s web site ( The article, originally published on GlacierHub, touches on Robin’s research on the evolution of polar ice sheets and her current role as President of the American Geophysical Union, but devotes most of its word count to lifestyle choices that reflect her concern for the future of the planet.

    On Monday next week, Lamont’s Advisory Board will hold their semiannual meeting in New York City. The core of the meeting will be an update on Lamont’s initiative on Changing Ice, Changing Coastlines.

    In the meantime, this afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by Lamont’s Xiaojun Yuan. Xiaojun will be speaking on “The interconnected global climate system – A review of tropical–polar teleconnections.” I hope that you will seek to connect to her seminar topic in person and will join me in her audience.

    Following today’s colloquium, there will be a showing of the first in a new series of exhibits of art by Lamont scientists, organized by Miriam Cinquegrana and Nicole deRoberts. The first exhibit in the series will premiere the photography of Billy D’Andrea, taken during his recent field trip to Easter Island, and of Mike Kaplan taken during fieldwork in Patagonia. A reception today at 4:30 pm in the Monell lower lobby will mark the opening of the exhibit, which will move next week to the Lamont Café. Please let Miriam or Nicole know if you are interested in sharing your own artwork in future exhibits in this series.