Lamont Weekly Report, October 9, 2020

     Hello Friends,  I hope everyone is enjoying the cool fall weather and increasingly colorful woodlands.  It has been another busy week at Lamont.  Thank you to everyone that tuned into the Town Hall and especially to Alex, Art, and Pat for updating us all on the Climate School, Covid-19, and our campus, respectively.  Other events I’ve participated in this week include a meeting with Art, Alex, and the Trustees of the Doherty Foundation to update them on the work of Lamont, the education programming the Foundation supports and our role in the Climate School. It was an engaging conversation and the Doherty Trustees had many questions about our research and how Lamont science can help inform climate response and policy.  

     On Thursday morning, as a member of the Provost’s Council of Deans, I participated in the first of three 90-minute workshops forming the “Mini-Institute on Addressing Anti-Black Racism” with other Deans and leaders from across the University.  This morning, Kuheli, our DEI task force leaders, myself and others participated in the Earth Institute’s Virtual Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-racism workshop.   After the 90-minute Anti-racism workshop yesterday, three hours in the DEIA workshop this morning and another hour learning about and discussing what co-production of knowledge means in our lab group meeting this afternoon, my head is spinning processing so many new ideas, concepts, worldviews, challenges, and self-interrogations.  After four decades spent in higher education, this strikes me as a very exciting time to be in academia and I feel we are engaging in a thought revolution that is irreversible.  I hope that is true.

     I received some good news from our “CFO” Edie Miller this week – our Lamont PIs are writing far more proposals in quarantine than they did last year. Contracts staff have been incredibly busy, non-stop since March.  As Edie said, this is a great sign!  The increased proposal volume is likely to transform into more awards.  In every cloud there is a silver lining, and I have to really hand it to our scientists and our grants admin team – thank you for your incredible hard work and dedication during a devastating global pandemic.  Hopefully we will emerge from these dark times stronger than ever as an institution.

     Admiral Higgins (aka Sean Higgins, Director of Marine Operations) wrote to me with an update on the R/V Marcus Langseth, which is currently in the North Pacific.  The Aleutian Project, led by Dan Lizarralde (WHOI) and Donna Shillington (formerly of Lamont), just wrapped up and data collection has gone well. Donna has been maintaining a blog that has some nice entries for those who may be interested. Nicolás Young and Joerg Schaefer also continue to dominate the weekly news cycle (so many links below!) with their recent study on Greenland ice sheet history and the unprecedented rate of change being observed in this region today.

     The big news this week is that the 2021-2022 Lamont Postdoctoral Fellowship competition is on!  Please spread the word widely among your colleagues at other institutions and thanks to all who have been sending out the tweets.  It should be self-evident by now that we are especially committed to attracting underrepresented groups, and in bringing diverse talent to Lamont. The fellowship link can be found here.  Note the two important deadlines: 9 November 2020 for applicants, and 13 November 2020 for receipt of recommendation letters. We are running on a tight schedule this year because of the hiring freeze and the delays that it caused in terms of getting approval for the posting. Due to our tight timeline, which includes uploading all materials to our internal website, seeking community comments and feedback, reviewing applications and comments, and then getting the top 40 list out to the Lamont community – all before AGU – unfortunately, we cannot extend these deadlines.

     Another important “competition” to engage with is the EI’s annual Distinguished Staff Award to recognize and honor exemplary performance by administrative staff members who show strong commitment and dedication to their work.  Please consider nominating members of our Lamont staff here.  Maybe the heroes processing our larger than ever proposal load?  (Hint hint).  And while we are all following links, here is another one, to an article in Scientific American coauthored by Lamont seismologists Paul Richards and Lynn Sykes calling on scientists everywhere to rise in defense of democracy.  It is linked to a petition signed by numerous Lamont scientists (and a few Nobel Prize winners).  Please consider signing and help us get to our goal of 4000 signatories.

     Lamont Open House is right around the corner! Whether you’re an aspiring young scientist or a long-time science enthusiast, you’re sure to enjoy Open House. This year, the Columbia University Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory’s iconic annual event is going virtual for the first time.  Lamont Open House at Home runs October 19-22 and features interactive K-12 workshops, inspiring talks and panel discussions, demonstrations and lab tours, plus an awesome new immersive game experience AND our LDEO To-Go Activity Pack by mail with activities inspired by our research in Antarctica and Greenland.⁠ Visit for details. Register today!

     And the weekly grab-bag of important issues weighing on my mind.  Gratitude I did not have a fly on my head during the Town Hall.  Envious that I don’t get to tell people I study “Sea Sparkle” like Joaquim Goes.  Calculating whether we could get Waymo, the autonomous ride-hailing service now open to the public in Phoenix, to establish a Morningside-Lamont route (what is it about that name?).  Anticipating sleeping in tomorrow on World Mental Health Day.  And finally, looking forward to Kirsty Tinto’s colloquium talk this afternoon “From sky to seafloor - Airborne observations to understand ice sheet change with Operation IceBridge and Rosetta-Ice”. 

     I’ll end my shorter than usual missive with a share that made me laugh this week.  A colleague told me the other day, I enjoy your weekly newsletter, it just takes a long time to read.  His comment reminded me of that hilarious scene in Amadeus when the Emperor says to Mozart, “There are simply too many notes.  That’s all.  Just cut a few and it will be perfect.” 

     Wishing you all a restorative weekend and, hopefully, success in the ongoing pursuit of perfection in your life!   Best, Mo








Blooms Driven by Climate Change Threaten to Smother Marine Life in Arabian Sea


October 7, 2020

Article on research led by Lamont marine biologist Joaquim Goes.


Findings from Summer Immersed in the Hudson River

Nyack News & Views

October 7, 2020

Article by Lamont director of educational field programs Margie Turin on summer internship program.


Scientists Must Rise in Defense of Democracy

Scientific American

October 2, 2020

Article co-authored by Lamont seismologists Paul Richards and Lynn Sykes.


Climate Crisis: Greenland on Course to Lose More Ice This Century than in Any Other in Past 12,000 Years

The Independent

October 1, 2020

Article on research co-authored by Lamont geochemists Nicolás Young and Joerg Schaefer.


3 New Climate Discoveries That Should Worry Just About Everyone

Columbia Magazine

October 1, 2020

Article on research by Lamont bioclimatologist Park Williams, polar scientist Marco Tedesco, and climate scientists Benjamin Cook, Radley Horton, and Richard Seager.


Greenland Is Losing Ice Faster This Century Than Any Previous One in Last 12,000 Years, Says Study


October 1, 2020

Article on research co-authored by Lamont geochemists Nicolás Young and Joerg Schaefer.


Greenland Ice Sheet Projected to Lose Ice at the Fastest Rate Since the End of the Last Ice Age

CBS News

September 30, 2020

Article on research co-authored by Lamont geochemists Nicolás Young and Joerg Schaefer.


Greenland Melting Faster Than Any Time in Last 12,000 Years

Courthouse News Service

September 30, 2020

Article on research co-authored by Lamont geochemists Nicolás Young and Joerg Schaefer.


Greenland Ice Sheet on Course to Lose Ice at Fastest Rate in 12,000 Years, Study Finds

The Washington Post

September 30, 2020

Article on research co-authored by Lamont geochemists Nicolás Young and Joerg Schaefer that also cites Lamont polar scientist Marco Tedesco.


Greenland's Ice Sheet Is Melting as Fast as at Any Time in the Last 12,000 Years, Study Shows


September 30, 2020

Article on research co-authored by Lamont geochemists Nicolás Young and Joerg Schaefer.




Methods Used to Reconstruct Ancient Rain Forests May Need Revision, Says Study

October 05, 2020

One way in which scientists use carbon isotopes found in fossils to identify the sites of ancient rain forests may not work as expected.


Our Biggest, Best Event of the Year is Going Virtual

October 02, 2020

Lamont Open House at Home is four days of exciting and informative virtual earth science activities for children, families, educators, and science enthusiasts of all ages.