Lamont Weekly Report, May 31, 2019

     This week began with a New York Times story that the U.S. Geological Survey Director, as part of the Trump administration’s aggressive and sustained policy of climate change denial, announced that USGS would use climate model projections only through the year 2040 rather than longer-range forecasts ( It is sad to see a once-objective federal science agency opt to place blinders on the scientific process for political and commercial ends. Fortunately, all of us at Lamont worry about the planet we will leave to our children and grandchildren, and we are free to see as clearly as our scientific insight and modeling acumen will permit.

     On Monday, Nature Geoscience published an article by Kirsty Tinto, Indrani Das, David Porter, Nick Frearson, Chris Bertinato, Alexandra Boghosian, Sylvia Cordero, Tej Dhakal, Ling Ling Dong, Chloe Gustafson, Caitlin Locke, Julian Spergel, Sarah Starke, Martin Wearing, Robin Bell, and their collaborators on the results of the ROSETTA-Ice geophysical survey of the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica and their implications for the stability of this ice shelf, the world’s largest. On the basis of differences in the remanent magnetization of upper crustal rocks, Kirsty and her team identified clearly, and for the first time, the tectonic boundary between East and West Antarctica that runs beneath the Ross Embayment. From gravity anomalies and limited bathymetric measurements they showed that the seafloor on the East Antarctic side of the Embayment is deeper than to the west, probably the result of greater thinning of the crust to the east prior to the assembly of the modern continent. Ocean circulation models that incorporate the new bathymetry show that the tectonic boundary constrains circulation beneath the ice shelf and serves to protect the grounding line from moderate changes in ocean heat content. The models also show that seasonal production of warm upper-ocean water near the ice front drives rapid melting of the ice shelf east of Ross Island, a location where thinning of the shelf would lead to faster loss of grounded ice from both the East and West Antarctic ice sheets. A press release on the paper’s findings by Marie Aronsohn was posted to our web site on Monday (, and the story was picked up by UPI ( and other media.

     Columbia University Press has announced the publication of a new memoir by Lynn Sykes, Plate Tectonics and Great Earthquakes. The publisher’s description of the book ( includes the following: “Lynn Sykes played a key role in the birth of plate tectonics, conducting revelatory research on earthquakes. In this book, he gives an invaluable insider’s perspective on the theory’s development and its implications. Sykes…entered the field when it was on the cusp of radical discoveries. Studying the distribution and mechanisms of earthquakes, [he] pioneered the identification of seismic gaps—regions that have not ruptured in great earthquakes for a long time—and methods to estimate the possibility of quake recurrence. He recounts the various phases of his career, including his antinuclear activism, and the stories of colleagues around the world who took part in changing the paradigm. Sykes delves into the controversies over earthquake prediction and their importance, especially in the wake of the giant 2011 Japanese earthquake and the accompanying Fukushima disaster.” The book promises to be a great read.

     Jim Gaherty and Theresa Sawi spent this week in the central Pacific Ocean, northeast of the Marquesas Islands, on the R/V Kilo Moana. Along with scientists and technicians from six other U.S. universities and participants from China and Norway, they have spent the last three weeks recovering 30 broadband ocean-bottom seismometers deployed since the spring of 2018, dredged three volcanic features, and mapped thousands of linear kilometers of seafloor. Yesterday they began their transit back to Honolulu. The cruise is the second of four focused on imaging small-scale convection beneath the Pacific plate, a project co-led by Jim, Göran Ekström, and Lamont alumnus Zach Eilon, now at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The science party has been posting reports of their progress on their blog site (

      The Geochemistry Division this week announced plans for a symposium to be held at Lamont this fall to honor the life and scientific contributions of Wally Broecker. The symposium organizing committee is chaired by Jerry McManus and also includes Bob Anderson, Mark Cane, Patty Catanzaro, Elizabeth Clark, Sid Hemming, Dorothy Peteet, and Michael Bender from Princeton University. The symposium will be held on Friday, October 25, so please mark that date on your calendars. The organizing committee may elect to extend activities to Saturday, October 26, but those plans are still in flux.

      On Tuesday, Lamont was visited by Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences alumna Catherine Pomposi, now the 2018-2019 American Meteorological Society Congressional Science Fellow. Catherine, who works in the office of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on the development of legislative priorities across a broad environmental portfolio that includes climate change and resiliency, natural resource management, and emissions reductions, gave a seminar on “Leveraging science in a policy world.”

     From Tuesday evening until today, Columbia has hosted a Workshop on Correlated Extremes (, climate extremes that occur close together in space and time. The workshop was jointly sponsored by Columbia’s Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate, the Earth Institute’s Climate Adaptation Initiative, the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Regional Integrated Science and Assessments (RISA) program, the World Climate Research Programme, the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST), and Aon. The workshop organizing committee included Suzana Camargo, Radley Horton, and Colin Raymond, the latter two as co-chairs. Weston Anderson, Arlene Fiore, Park Williams, and Sha Zhou were among the workshop presenters.

     This week marked the arrival of 32 Lamont Summer Interns, who hail from 18 colleges and universities and will spend the next nine weeks working on research projects supervised by 34 mentors. The interns were treated to a welcoming party yesterday afternoon, and today they were given an introduction to computing at Lamont by Phil Fitzpatrick and Rob Kakascik. A list of the interns, their undergraduate institutions, and their mentors follows:


  Summer Intern

  Intern Affiliation


Stephanie Arévalo

Housatonic Community College

 Frank Nitsche, Tim Kenna

Romilly Benedict

George Mason University

 Sid Hemming

Sophie Billinge

Barnard College

 Martin Stute

Sarah Blau

Barnard College

 Brian Mailloux

Mariela Carrera

Hudson County Community College

 Joaquim Goes, Kali McKee

Miah Cohall

Manhattan College

 Jerry McManus

Bryan Fefe

Hostos Community College

 Sidney Hemming

William Fleming

Columbia University

 Susanne Straub

Chuqi (Scout) Jiang

Columbia University

 Spencer Jones, Ryan Abernathey

Samuel Kodama

Columbia University

 Stephen Cox, Sid Hemming

Jessica Kreinik

Skidmore College

 Helga Gomes, Joaquim Goes

Charlotte Kwong

Columbia University

 Róisín Commane, Arlene Fiore

Anna Ledeczi

Columbia University

 Bill Menke

Kelcey Logan

Barnard College

 Yael Kiro, Mike Kaplan

Stefanie Moncayo

Dominican College of Blauvelt

 James Ross, Steve Chilrrud

Emily Mustelier (Carrero)

Columbia University

 Bill Menke

Bailey Nordin

Columbia University

 Stephen Cox, Sid Hemming

Mollie Passcantando

Rutgers University - New Brunswick

 Sophie Hines, Sid Hemming

James Podwika

Rockland Community College

 Dallas Abbott

  Laurel Quiñónes

 Columbia University

 Arlene Fiore

Emmerline Ragoonath

Kingsborough Community College

 Helga Gomes, Joaquim Goes

Abderahim Salhi

Hudson County Community College

 Qiang Yang, Steve Chillrud

Serana Scholz

University of Michigan

 Richard Seager, Mingfang Ting, Yochanan     Kushnir

Shannon Springstead

The College of New Jersey

 Chris Zappa

Emily Symonds

Barnard College

 Qiang Yang, Steve Chillrud

Desirae Thorne

Wellesley College

 Dallas Abbott, Reinhard Kozdon,
 Ben Bostick

Connor Watkins

  Indiana University - Purdue-University

 Sid Hemming, Trevor Willliams, Mo Raymo,   Stephen Cox 

Helen Weierbach

Tulane University

 Allegra LeGrande, Kostas Tsigaridis

Xin Wu

Southern University of Science and Technology

 Qiang Yang, Steve Chillrud

Wenke Zeng

Southern University of Science and Technology

 Qiang Yang, Steve Chillrud

Jiahua Zhao

Southern University of Science and Technology

 Donna Shillington


     Yesterday, Laura Stevens was named an Outstanding Reviewer for 2018 by the American Geophysical Union ( Honorees were nominated by the editors of each of AGU’s scientific journals, and Laura was tapped by an editor of Geophysical Research Letters. Congratulations, Laura!

     Today, the June issue of Lamont’s electronic newsletter was distributed to our subscribers ( The issue includes six science stories from the month of May, an education story, and links to 13 media stories from the month that featured Lamont science or scientists.

     Tomorrow, Margie Turrin will be leading Lamont’s contributions to the Great Fish Count (, an annual public engagement event co-sponsored by the World Science Festival and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as well as by the Observatory. A story on the event, written by Margie (, was posted to our web site late last week.

     Whether you are counting fish or contemplating the climate after 2040, may you enjoy the first weekend of June.