Lamont Weekly Report, May 27, 2016

     A second week in a row began with sad news for the extended Lamont family, with a belated report that Columbia and Lamont alumnus Charles Officer, Jr., had passed away last month ( A theoretical geophysicist with broad interests, Chuck was well known as the author of several textbooks and a number of popular books in Earth science. 

     On Monday and Tuesday, Lamont’s contributions to our understanding of plate tectonics, from half a century ago to the present, were celebrated with a two-day symposium ( that drew alumni and former staff members from around the world. The symposium featured talks by Bill Ryan, Enrico Bonatti, Jim Cochran, Peter Kelemen, Dennis Kent, Paul Olsen, Terry Plank, Maureen Raymo, Donna Shillington, Lynn Sykes, and me, as well as by Lamont alumni and friends Tanya Atwater, Steve Cande, Dan Davis, Don Forsyth, Jeff Fox, Bryan Isacks, Xavier Le Pichon, Peter Molnar, Neil Opdyke, Manik Talwani, and Tony Watts. 

     The workshop was ably organized by a committee chaired by Roger Buck and Bill Ryan and including Suzanne Carbotte, Einat Lev, Greg Mountain, Donna Shillington, and Lynn Sykes. Special thanks are owed to Miriam Cinquegrana, Karen Buck, Yvette Matos-Gooding, Marian Mellin, Phil Fitzpatrick, and a number of their colleagues for logistical support. Videos of talks from the second day of the workshop have been posted on our web site (, and videos from the first day will be posted soon. Lamont’s Facebook gallery includes workshop photos (, and Bill Menke has posted a number of candid shots from the event ( A Stacy Morford story on the workshop emphasizes the important role that Lamont’s policies of regularly acquiring data and samples and open access to those data played in enabling Observatory scientists to make key contributions that shaped and confirmed the plate tectonics theory (

     On Wednesday, Lamont was visited by Jim Angell, Director of Environmental Programs at the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, along with Christina Vellios, Major Gift Officer at Columbia’s Office of Alumni and Development. Jim is a second-generation Columbia College graduate and a former attorney with Earthjustice, a public interest environmental law firm. One of the major missions of the Angell Family Foundation is conservation of the oceans, and on his visit Jim was given tours of the laboratories of Sonya Dyhrman, Hugh Ducklow, Maureen Raymo, Bärbel Hönisch, and Ryan Abernathey. 

     On Wednesday evening I attended a “gala” for The Nature Conservancy as a guest of Roy Vagelos, who co-chairs Columbia University’s Campaign Executive Committee. Roy and his wife Diana were honored at the event for their visionary philanthropy and for his years of leadership on the Conservancy’s Global Board of Directors. In his acceptance remarks, Roy gave an impassioned plea that TNC should commit to a sustained worldwide effort to mitigate climate change and its impacts as part of its core mission. 

     The R/V Langseth is now at the SUNY Maritime College facility in The Bronx, where she will be berthed for the next two months. Arrangements for tours by friends of the Observatory are in the works. 

     The news this week included a National Public Radio interview with David Gallo on Monday ( about the technical challenges to finding the remains of the EgyptAir aircraft that crashed in the Mediterranean Sea last week. A story Wednesday on Yale Climate Connections quoted Adam Sobel on the ever-improving science of attributing extreme weather events to global climate change ( And in the business section of Thursday’s print edition of The New York Times, Sister Pat Daly – Lamont Advisory Board member and executive director of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment – was quoted on efforts by activist shareholders of Exxon Mobil to force the company to acknowledge its obligation to help limit global warming ( 

     On Wednesday through Friday next week, Lamont will host a workshop on “Comparing data and model estimates of hydroclimate variability and change over the Common Era.” Sponsored jointly by the Past Global Changes (PAGES) 2k network and the PAST2K working group of the Paleoclimate Intercomparison Modeling Project (PIMP), the workshop is being organized by Jason Smerdon and international co-chairs Juerg Luterbacher and Steven Phipps. A local organizing committee assisting with meeting planning includes Laia Andreu Hayles, Brendan Buckley, Rosanne D'Arrigo, Yochanan Kushnir, Justin Mankin, Richard Seager, and Deepti Singh, and additional administrative coordination is being provided by Mercedes Paulino. 

     In the meantime, may you all enjoy the arrival of warm weather and the three-day weekend ahead.