Lamont Weekly Report, May 28, 2021

     Hello Friends,  Lots of exciting research news piled up while I was away, so I will dive right in.  We can collectively celebrate two of our students finishing up their theses this week.  Daniel Bishop successfully defended his PhD on "Attributing the Causes of a Century of Hydroclimatic Change in the United States”. Dan will be working as an Atmospheric Scientist at a catastrophe risk modeling company in Boston starting later this summer.  Elizabeth Min successfully defended her PhD on “Quantifying the Effects of Herbivores and Climate Change on Arctic Tundra Carbon Cycling”.  Dan and Elizabeth, we wish you the best in all your future endeavors—congratulations!

     Postdoctoral Research Scientist Alexandra Boghosian won a 2021 Lotos Foundation Prize award in the Arts and Sciences. Robin Bell nominated Alexandra for her collaborative work “translating ice sheet data sets and knowledge into different media—including drawings, tangible models, dance and gestural languages, and 3D immersive spaces using mixed reality”.  Lamont Research Professor Jim Davis was interviewed for an article in Popular Mechanics called “The Case for the 59-Second Minute and Why It Could Wreck Us”.  Jim, as if we don’t have enough to worry about! 

     The Heising-Simons Foundation has awarded LDEO a $995K grant for Paul Olsen and his team’s project, “Solar System dynamics from continental climate rhythms and interactions with radiative forcing, 200-240 Ma”.  This project derives astronomical parameters from instrumental records of climate proxies from lake strata and examines how the expression of the orbital rhythms are modulated by atmospheric CO2. This is a component of a larger multi-institutional project funded by the foundation, “Leveraging the Geologic Record to Constrain Solar System Evolution, Earth-Moon Dynamics, Paleoclimate Change, and Geological Time” that also includes our own Alberto Malinverno, as well as Linda Hinnov (George Mason University), Steve Meyers (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Lorraine Lisiecki (UC Santa Barbara) Richard Zeebe (University of Hawaii), Greg Laughlin (Yale University), and Rocio Caballero-Gill (Mazak Academic Coaching, LLC).  Congrats Paul! 

     Another recently funded project that is off and running is the Greenland Rising project, the brainchild of Kirsty Tinto and Jacky Austermann.  This project is working to co-produce knowledge to guide adaptation to changing sea level in four communities around Greenland.  Lamont's partnership with the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources has grown tremendously through the pandemic with deep engagement in the communities, ranging from hunters to fisherpeople to students in classrooms and in the field. Dave Porter and Margie Turrin have been visiting classrooms around Greenland virtually while our partners shared in person the puzzles and glacier goo often seen at Open House.  Tide gauges have been installed and multi-beam mapping has begun around some of the partner communities, all by local collaborators.  And most exciting, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was briefed on the project by both NSF and our partners when he visited Greenland last week. 

     On behalf of LRPs William D’Andrea and Marco Tedesco, who are running for seats on the Columbia University Senate, I encourage you to vote for a LDEO representative. Many more details are in their email to the community, but the key point is that of the 108 voting senate seats, only six are reserved for Professional Research Officers (PROs) and three of these are currently open for new representatives.  Within LDEO, IRI, and CIESIN, the Lamont campus is home to 148 PROs, yet we do not have a single representative on the University Senate. Please look for the email with the ballot link and vote!

     In other numbers, 2021 will be the 67th anniversary of the Twenty-Five Year Club at Columbia—a club to which individuals are inducted who have been with the University for at least a quarter century. This year will welcome the following Lamonters into the club: Brendan Buckley, Suzanne Carbotte, Steven Chillrud, Claudia Giulivi, Maribel Respo, Roseanne Schwartz, Lex van Geen, Xiaojun Yuan.  Collectively, you have been here 200 years!

     Graduate student Elise Myers was interviewed for a series of pieces about women scientists by Audrey Puente, a meteorologist with WNYW-TV in New York City, and producer.  This series was inspired by our "Extraordinary Women" newsletter.  DEES professor Göran Ekström emailed a recent story about another landslide that he and his colleagues detected. This (and many other) landslides are happening as a consequence of glacier retreat with, sometimes, devastating local impacts. 

     This week’s EI LIVE K-12, hosted by Cassie Xu, featured “Rock You Like a Hurricane”, with Lamont Research Professor Chia-Ying Lee. Chia-Ying introduced students to the science of hurricanes including “how hurricanes form, develop, grow, and change” as well as what scientists know (and don’t know) about this year’s hurricane season (predicted to be bad!). On June 3 at 4:00 PM, all learners are invited to “There Goes that Boom Boom Pow!” with Senior Staff Associate Nick Frearson. Nick will be talking about volcanic eruptions and how scientists analyze volcanic data to identify patterns and forecast eruptions. You can register here.

     But wait!  There’s more!  On June 7, 2:00- 3:30 PM The Earth Institute/Columbia Climate School’s Communications Department invites you to join “Field Photography” with John Bulmer, a New York-based and internationally well-known professional photographer specializing in environmental images. Topics in this course will include: basic camera function, shooting in the field best practices, how to build a narrative, and basic lighting concepts. The session is open to the Columbia community and you can register here.  I attended a similar workshop with photographer Paul Nicklen once and it was incredibly useful in thinking about how I took pictures in the field.  You can be the star of next year’s graduate student calendar!

     We are two steps closer to a net zero campus this week with the installation of a pair of electric vehicle charging stations on campus, next to Borehole and Oceanography.  Both are Chargepoint stations, similar to those downtown, and can handle charging two cars at a time.  The funding for this project was provided by a generous gift from the Sprague Foundation, made in honor of Frank Julian Sprague, an electrical engineer who built the first electric engine that could handle a variable load and thus could pull trains and raise elevators at a steady rate.  I am told that the advent of Sprague's trolleys gradually ended horse-drawn trolleys and, more importantly, the piles of manure they left behind. By using these stations, we can put less carbon dioxide “manure” into the atmosphere.  Indeed, if cars pooped out carbon turds instead of invisible odorless CO2 we probably wouldn’t be in the pickle we are in today.  We would have transitioned to more advanced technologies decades ago.

     Is it Snakes on a Plane?  Or Snakes in the Lab?  This week’s animal adventure starred a poisonous copperhead.  And where did all the geese go?  I haven’t seen one all week.  Lastly, another batch of (inexpensive) outdoor chairs (in Vema Blue) are being scattered about campus.  Enjoy the beautiful weather, the graceful rose garden (peonies and irises in bloom), the majestic tulip tree behind Lamont Hall (putting on its annual show of “tulips”), the influx of colleagues back to campus, the return of volleyball, and, most of all, enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend.

     Best, Mo








Hidden in African Diamonds, a Billion-Plus Years of Deep-Earth History

National Science Foundation

May 25, 2021

Article on study co-authored by Lamont geochemists Yaakov Weiss, Cornelia Class, Gisela Winckler, Steve Goldstein, and colleagues.


Dust from the Deep Sea and Future Wind Patterns


May 24, 2021

Article on study by Lamont PhD student Jordan Abell, climate scientist Gisela Winckler, geochemist Robert Anderson, and colleague.


Atlantic Hurricane Season Expected to Be 'Above Normal' This Year


May 24, 2021

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Suzana Camargo.


Could America be Headed for Another Dust Bowl?

Mother Jones

May 24, 2021

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Benjamin Cook.