Lamont Weekly Report, May 11, 2018

    This week, Visiting Senior Research Scientist Al Hofmann received the good news that he has been elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society. According to Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, “this year’s newly elected Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society are testament that science is a global endeavour and excellent ideas transcend borders” (

    Lamont scientists also did well in the spring 2018 round of awards from the Columbia University President’s Global Innovation Fund, intended to support the development of new projects and scholarly collaborations for research or education involving one or more of the university’s Global Centers. Awards will be given to a project of Sid Hemming and Stephen Cox on “Student geology research in the Turkana Basin;” one by Joaquim Goes and Helga Gomes entitled “Towards early detection and forecasting of hypoxic events, harmful algal bloom outbreaks and fish mortality events along the west coast of India;” and another by Yael Kiro, Steve Goldstein, and Yochanan Kushnir on “Water availability during extreme arid events in the Middle East in the past, present and future: Connecting between science, policy, and urban design.”

    Moreover, Maya Tolstoy received an award from the new Provost’s Grants Program for Mid-Career Faculty Who Contribute to the Diversity Goals of the University. Maya’s award is for a project entitled “Seasonal changes in earthquake activity in the Himalayas: Linking climate change, sustainability and earthquake preparedness.”

    To Al, Sid, Stephen, Joaquim, Helga, Yael, Steve, Yochanan, and Maya, congratulations!

    On Friday last week, Lamont co-sponsored with the Business School’s Tamer Center for Social Enterprise and Milstein Center for Real Estate a Climate Science and Investment Conference ( The topic of the conference was “Ice sheets and sea level rise: Implications for coastal property.” Lamont speakers included Robin Bell, Suzana Camargo, Peter de Menocal, Radley Horton, and Marco Tedesco; and others from Lamont who attended included Meghan Fay, Art Lerner-Lam, and Ashley Sheed.

    On Saturday morning, NASA launched the InSight (Interior exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy, and Heat Transport) spacecraft, which carries the first seismometer sent to Mars (or any other planetary body) in more than four decades. The lander, which also includes a heat flow probe and a radio science experiment, is scheduled to arrive at Mars this fall (

    On Monday, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a paper by Dennis Kent, Paul Olsen, Chris Lepre, and colleagues reporting paleomagnetic measurements and uranium-lead dates from a scientific core acquired in the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona that ties to the astrochronographic polarity time scale that Dennis and Paul earlier established for the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic from rocks of the Newark and Hartford basins. The new work provides empirical confirmation that the 405-thousand-year cycle describing variations in Earth’s orbital eccentricity – driven by the gravitational tugs of Venus and Jupiter – has modulated global climate at least as far back as 215 million years ago. A Kevin Krajick release on the paper’s findings was posted on our web site on Monday (, and the story has been picked up by Newsweek and other media (  

    Earlier today, this year’s 2018 Policy Forum hosted by Columbia University’s Office of Government and Community Affairs, in partnership with the Earth Institute, was on the topic of “Extreme weather and resiliency: Measuring impact in New York, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean.” Suzana Camargo and Radley Horton were among the presenters at the forum, which was held at Faculty House.

    The continuing eruption along the East Rift Zone of Kilauea volcano on Hawaii has kept Einat Lev in the news this week. An article she penned for CNN about the calculated risks of living on an active volcano that appeared last Friday ( was picked up by other media and translated into Spanish. Einat was also interviewed Monday for “Here and Now,” a show on WBUR, a public radio station in Boston (

    Media interest in volcanoes extended locally, and Bill Menke was quoted in an story Wednesday ( on Rutan Hill, the remnants of a volcano in New Jersey. Also on Wednesday, Lynn Sykes was quoted in a story in The Verge on modern efforts to monitor the underground testing of nuclear weapons (

    Several Lamont scientists will be contributing to community outreach over the next several days. Tomorrow evening, Suzana Camargo will be part of a panel discussion on the communication of climate change hosted by the Rockland Center for the Arts, an event tied to their exhibition entitled “The Tipping Point” ( Next Wednesday, Park Williams will be speaking to the Retired Men’s Association of Greenwich on “The impact of climate change on global water resources essential to life” (

    In the meantime, this afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by journalist David Biello, Science Curator for TED ( and a contributing editor at Scientific American. David is the author of The Unnatural World: The Race to Remake Civilization in Earth’s Newest Age, published in 2016, and he hosts the documentary series Beyond the Light Switch and The Ethanol Effect for the Public Broadcasting Service. His lecture today will be on “The real news in an unnatural world.” For a dose of real news, I hope that you will join his audience.