This was a week in which the Earth remained much in the news. On Monday, three former administrators of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defended the imperative to shield scientific statements by the National Weather Service from political interference by the White House and the Department of Commerce (https://beta.washingtonpost.com/opinions/we-worked-for-the-noaa-weather-forecasting-should-never-be-political/2019/09/09/0045efe4-d340-11e9-9343-40db57cf6abd_story.html). And the lead story in today’s print edition of The New York Times was on yesterday’s announcement by the Trump administration of the repeal of the Waters of the United States rule, a clean-water regulation enacted by the Obama administration four years ago to restrict the discharge of harmful materials into this nation’s wetlands, streams, and rivers (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/12/climate/trump-administration-rolls-back-clean-water-protections.html). The increasingly vital importance of scientific evidence as a basis for public policy on matters affecting public health and safety could hardly be more evident.
The Ocean and Climate Physics Division this week welcomed Lamont Postdoctoral Fellow Shineng Hu. Shineng received his Ph.D. in 2018 from Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University, where he worked on El Niño-Southern Oscillation variability, intraseasonal wind bursts, and climate change on decadal timescales. He was most recently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he studied the role of ocean circulation in a warming climate. At Lamont, he will work with Richard Seager and Mark Cane on climate dynamics over a broad range of timescales, with a particular focus on the tropics. His research is motivated by observations (or proxies for past climate) and involves a hierarchy of climate models.
The Ocean and Climate Physics Division also welcomed visiting graduate student Min Wang, from the School of Earth Sciences at Zhejiang University in China. Sponsored by the Chinese Scholarship Council, Min will spend the next year working with Mingfang Ting on the impact and physical mechanisms of snow cover on teleconnection patterns (e.g., the North Atlantic Oscillation) and regional climate, as well as the contribution of snow cover to regional climate predictability.
The Geochemistry Division also welcomed two new arrivals this week. Erin Black, a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Ocean Frontier Institute (OFI) at Dalhousie University, will be visiting Lamont for six months as a part-time Postdoctoral Research Scientist to work with Bob Anderson. Erin received a Ph.D. in chemical oceanography last year from the MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography and Applied Ocean Sciences and Engineering, with a thesis on basin-scale controls on upper ocean export and remineralization of carbon and other elements. Lamont is an external partner in the OFI, and during her two-year fellowship Erin is dividing her time between the Observatory and Dalhousie.
Also new to the Geochemistry Division is Postdoctoral Research Scientist Craig Connolly, who recently defended his Ph.D. in marine science from the University of Texas, Austin, where his thesis was on the transport of dissolved organic carbon into the Arctic Ocean. At Lamont, Craig will be working with Ben Bostick on a project to compile global data sets on arsenic-related geochemistry and hydrology, and then apply them to the development of new mechanistic models for the fate and transport of arsenic over a range of spatial scales.
The R/V Marcus Langseth completed the final phase of the Alaska Amphibious Community Seismic Experiment (https://alaskaamphibious.wordpress.com/) this week. The last ocean-bottom seismometer recovery was completed on Tuesday, and the ship put into Kodiak, Alaska, yesterday to drop off the science party. Co-chief scientist Geoff Abers wrote yesterday, “Things went excellently and we got tons of data. I just want to thank everyone involved in this very professional Langseth operation.” The vessel will set sail tomorrow to the San Francisco Bay area for her annual U.S. Coast Guard inspection and planned shipyard work.
The September issue of Lamont’s electronic newsletter was widely distributed last Friday (https://lamontdohertyearthobservatory.cmail19.com/t/ViewEmail/d/C0410AFA4A913C4A2540EF23F30FEDED). The issue includes six articles on Lamont science from the past month, two stories on recent honors accorded to Lamont scientists, an article on the newly renovated Hudson River Field Station on the Piermont pier, and links to 20 media stories on Observatory science or scientists from the last month.
On Monday afternoon, Lamont’s Advisory Board met in the Comer Building. This will be the final year of the Board in its current form, as advisory and fundraising efforts for the Observatory and the Earth Institute become consolidated and streamlined, so a portion of the meeting was devoted to a discussion of the many ways in which Board members may continue to advise and support Lamont going forward. The Board was also treated to two science presentations. Jason Smerdon spoke on the climate history of the Common Era and its lessons for future climate, with a particular focus on megadroughts in the western U.S. And Kirsty Tinto synthesized findings from the ROSETTA-Ice Project on the geological, geophysical, and oceanographic setting of the Ross Ice Shelf and the implications for the ice shelf’s future vulnerability to underside melting and instability.
This time of year we devote particular attention to our postdoctoral scientists. Next week is National Postdoc Appreciation Week (https://www.nationalpostdoc.org/page/2019NPAW). This week, the advertisement announcing the availability of Lamont Postdoctoral Fellowships for next year was posted to our web site (https://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/about-ldeo/office-director/postdoctoral-fellowship-earth-environmental-and-ocean-sciences). And Wednesday this week was largely devoted to the 2019 Lamont Postdoctoral Symposium, with oral and poster presentations by many of Lamont’s postdoctoral scientists, this year including postdocs from the Earth Institute Postdoctoral Research Program (https://www.earth.columbia.edu/articles/view/55) and from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society. A program for the symposium, with abstracts of presentations given, is available at the Lamont Postdoctoral Affairs web page (https://diversity.ldeo.columbia.edu/postdoc#/text-187). Our thanks go to Kuheli Dutt for organizing the symposium and producing the program.
On Wednesday, Lamont and the Earth Institute announced a partnership with the investment management firm AllianceBernstein to co-develop a new curriculum on the topic of climate risk and investment performance. Entitled “Climate science and portfolio risk,” the curriculum will offer an analysis of how specific climate change impacts will affect economic and financial outcomes. Art Lerner-Lam has been leading the EI-Lamont side of the partnership, and Susan Holgate played an essential role in bringing the partners together. As part of the partnership, AllianceBernstein has also agreed to serve as the lead sponsor of Lamont’s Open House next month. A Marie Aronsohn article on the news was posted to our web site Wednesday (https://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/first-its-kind-curriculum-will-focus-climate-risk-and-investment-research), and the story was carried by Financial Times and other media (https://www.ft.com/content/dcc26620-d352-11e9-a0bd-ab8ec6435630).
As part of its ongoing renovation, Lamont’s Hudson River Field Station this week gained two murals that decorate the front wall of the building. The work of artist and local resident James Kimak, the murals depict the geological and human history of the Hudson River region. A Nicole deRoberts story about the murals – and Maureen Raymo’s critical role in their conception, design, and content (https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2019/09/12/hudson-river-field-station-mural/) – was posted yesterday. A ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the field station to the public is scheduled for later this month.
Media coverage of Lamont scientists this week included a Rockland/Westchester Journal News story Monday on Paul Olsen’s discovery, more than 47 years ago, of dinosaur footprints in Blauvelt, in an area now under consideration for rezoning to permit the construction of condos (https://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/rockland/blauvelt/2019/09/09/blauvelt-dinosaur-footprints-trampled-condos/2208746001/). Also on Monday, Lex van Geen coauthored an opinion piece for NJ.com on the growing concern over lead contamination in Newark’s drinking water and the importance of regular testing to the eventual restoration of trust in the safety of the water system (https://www.nj.com/opinion/2019/09/heres-how-to-end-the-newark-water-crisis-and-prevent-the-next-one.html). In a Popular Mechanics story Tuesday on the myths and conspiracy theories surrounding accounts of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 (https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/a6384/debunking-911-myths-world-trade-center/), Won-Young Kim and Art Lerner-Lam were quoted on Lamont’s seismic records of aircraft impacts and subsequent tower collapses and the support they provide for the timing and sequence of that morning’s events.
This afternoon marks the kick-off of this season’s Earth Science Colloquium series, organized this year by Lloyd Anderson, Alexandra Balter, Clara Chang, Christine Chesley, Sarah Giles, and Una Miller, and coordinated by Tim Crone. Today’s seminar will be given by atmospheric chemist Daniel Jacob (http://acmg.seas.harvard.edu/people/faculty/djj/), the Vasco McCoy Family Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Engineering at Harvard University. Daniel will be speaking on “Methane in the climate system: Monitoring emissions from space.” In order not to leave much space between you and the monitoring of his lecture, please join me for his talk.