Lamont Weekly Report, May 26, 2017

    Even with the spring semester now over, this week was a busy one at the Observatory.

    Daniel Bishop and Chloe (Yuchao) Gao learned that they are to receive NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowships for the 2017-2018 academic year. Daniel’s fellowship is in response to his proposal on “Attributing the causes of a century of wetting in the eastern United States using observations, models, and tree rings,” supervised by Park Williams. Chloe’s fellowship proposal was on “The impact of organic aerosol volatility on aerosol microphysics for global climate modeling applications,” part of her thesis work under the supervision of Susanne Bauer and Kostas Tsigaridis, both at the Center for Climate Systems Research. Congratulations to both Daniel and Chloe!

    Also this week, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and other partner organizations in the Hudson River Environmental Conditions Observing System (HRECOS) network received a conservation achievement award from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The award was presented Tuesday at the State of the Estuary Conference, held at the New York University School of Law. Margie Turrin and Wade McGillis represented Lamont at the conference. Kudos to our Hudson River team!

    Lamont’s Development group this week welcomed Gilonne d’Origny as Regional Development Director. Gilonne will be working to advance Lamont’s strategic initiatives and climate science funding needs in the context of the Columbia Campaign and to develop prospective donors for major gifts, with a particular focus on building relationships on the west coast. Gilonne has worked on climate change issues her entire career, starting with international climate change legal issues. She has brought climate change issues to the forefront of institutional business models in finance, business, and the media. More recently she focused on biotech solutions to climate change by funding research to make animal proteins without animals. Please join me in welcoming Gilonne to Lamont.

    Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres recently published online a paper by Dan Westervelt, Arlene Fiore, Mike Previdi, Gus Correa, and colleagues reporting on a modeling study of the consequences of reduced sulfur dioxide emissions in the U.S. for regional and global precipitation. The group showed that reductions in sulfur dioxide emissions as a result of stricter air pollution and acid raid control policies in the U.S. lead to increases in precipitation both in North America and remotely. A particularly interesting consequence is a predicted increase in both the duration and intensity of the rainy season in the Sahel, the semiarid region south of the Sahara. A Kim Martineau story on the paper’s findings was posted on our web site on Monday (

    Also on Monday, Columbia University launched a crowdfunding site as part of The Columbia Commitment fundraising campaign ( The site for the campaign’s Climate Response theme, entitled The Earth Cannot Be Silenced, features a two-and-a-half-minute video on climate research at the Observatory and across Columbia narrated by Peter deMenocal.

    Tuesday saw the release, as expected, of the Trump administration’s proposed federal budget for government fiscal year 2018. Also as expected, there were deep cuts from current levels in the budgets for most federal science agencies, from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health to the research programs at the Department of Energy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Environmental Protection Agency. Reaction to the budget by the scientific community was understandably strongly negative (, and even Congressional Republicans demonstrated little or no support for the budget ( The appropriations process has many months to play out, but it is not too early to make your own views known to your Senators and Representative. Constituent sentiment is one of the strongest influences on Congressional action.

    Also on Tuesday, Lamont was visited by Jonathan White, retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral and President and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. Jon was given tours of our Office of Marine Operations, our machine and shop warehouse, the Lamont Core Repository, and several of our geochemistry laboratories. He met with groups of Lamont scientists in all fields of oceanography, including Bob Anderson, Nichole Anest, Robin Bell, Carl Brenner, Suzanne Carbotte, Mary-Elena Carr, Sharon Cooper, Indrani Das, Hugh Ducklow, Pierre Dutrieux, Sonya Dyhrman, Dave Goldberg, Sean Higgins, Bärbel Hönisch, Bruce Huber, Andy Juhl, Doug Martinson, Bob Newton, David Porter, Peter Schlosser, Bill Smethie, Taro Takahashi, Kirsty Tinto, Maya Tolstoy, Xiaojun Yuan, and Chris Zappa. He began and ended his visit in brief discussions with Art Lerner-Lam and me on the history and status of marine science at Lamont and his vision for Ocean Leadership as a voice for the oceanographic community in Washington, D.C.

    On Wednesday and Thursday, Lamont hosted a two-day workshop on New York City Metro Area Energy and Air Quality Data Gaps. The goal of the workshop was “to identify data gaps that hinder informed decision making aimed at improving air quality and public health in the greater NYC urban area, as well as in downwind areas affected by emissions from this region” ( Arlene Fiore is a member of the Workshop Steering Committee and served as local host.

    Also on Wednesday and Thursday, I was in Houston to chair the Visiting Committee for the Lunar and Planetary Institute. The institute, operated by the Universities Space Research Association – of which Columbia University recently became the newest member – conducts research and manages a number of meetings, workshops, and publications for the planetary science community.

    On Thursday, the Office of Marine Operations celebrated the retirement of Paul Ljunggren, scheduled for the end of this month, after 27 years as Marine Superintendent of our ships. Paul’s long career in maritime operations and service to the U.S. Coast Guard and the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory Systems (UNOLS) seagoing community is featured in the May issue of the UNOLS Newsletter ( Sean Higgins writes, “Paul’s remarkable commitment to LDEO and OMO that encompasses the R/V Ewing and R/V Langseth has benefited all who have gone to sea from LDEO during that time as well as others throughout the UNOLS community.” Please take an opportunity in the next few days to join me in thanking Paul for his long and loyal service to Lamont!

    And speaking of the Langseth, Sean Higgins reports that mobilization is in full swing to ready the ship for her next cruise, a study of marine microbiological processes across environmental gradients in the Pacific Ocean off Hawaii. Chief scientist Virginia Armbrust, from the University of Washington, and her scientific party are aboard, and the ship is on schedule to sail from Honolulu tomorrow.

    A new addition to Lamont’s web page is a photo essay by Billy D’Andrea on his research in Norway’s Lofoten Islands, north of the Arctic Circle ( In addition to several spectacular photos of the field area, the site briefly describes the work of Billy and former Lamont Postdoctoral Fellow Nick Balascio, now at the College of William & Mary, on the development of paleoclimate records from lake sediments and the influence of climate and sea-level change on Viking settlements on the islands between about 500 BC and 1100 AD.

    Whether your focus is on lakes, oceans, ships, or rainfall, may you enjoy the coming three-day weekend before the calendar month changes and summer is upon us.