Lamont Weekly Report, September 18, 2015

This week was punctuated by the magnitude 8.3 earthquake and associated tsunami in Chile on Wednesday evening. According to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, stringent building codes and the timely evacuation of more than a million residents saved many lives (

For those at Lamont, the week was calm by comparison.

The R/V Langseth arrived at Woods Hole on Sunday, after completing her latest cruise to survey the electrical conductivity structure of continental shelf sediments off New Jersey and Martha’s Vineyard. Co-chief scientist Rob Evans of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution wrote, “The cruise was a great success, and we were more than happy with the ship and her crew.” The Langseth will remain in Woods Hole until the end of the month to complete replacement work for the ship’s fire damper as well as the de-rigging and re-rigging of the electronics for the new Sercel seismic streamer system. On October 1, the ship will transit to Brooklyn, where the swap of the streamer system will be completed. After a sea trial of the new streamer system off New York, the ship will return to port to load 93 ocean-bottom seismometers and other gear needed for the next cruise in the eastern Mediterranean.  

At our 11th annual Excellence in Mentoring Award Ceremony on Monday, Excellence in Mentoring Awards for 2015 were given to Natalie Boelman and Gisela Winckler. It was the first year in the history of the award that the nominations of the top candidates were so strong that the selection committee elected to designate two awardees. A Stacy Morford story on what makes Natalie and Gisela particularly outstanding mentors has been posted on our web site ( To Natalie, Gisela, and all of this year’s nominees, congratulations!

Also on Monday, Dave Porter participated in a panel discussion at the United Nations that followed a showing of “The Pursuit of Endurance: On the Shoulders of Shackleton,” a film on changes in the Southern Ocean, implications of Antarctic ice sheet melting, the importance of making subsurface measurements in the polar oceans, and the impacts of climate change on native Greenlanders. In the audience of more than 600 was François Delattre, the French Ambassador to the UN. The event was held on the eve of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly.

On Tuesday, Julia Eiferman joined Lamont’s Research Management Office as a Program Analyst. Julia brings a Master of Public Administration degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, and she worked most recently at the Earth Institute’s Center for Climate Systems Research at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Julia earlier spent five years in Washington, D.C., working in the areas of foundation relations and organizational development for the National Parks Conservation Association and the National Park Service. Please join me in welcoming Julia to our campus.

Lamont’s Advisory Board met on Wednesday, as did the Board’s committees on Education, Marketing, Membership, and Risk. The highlight of the full Board meeting was a presentation by Peter deMenocal on the status of the Climate and Life initiative. Over the next four meetings, the Board will hear about progress to date on each of Lamont’s four other strategic initiatives, as well as near-term and longer-term priorities for fundraising needed to maintain or accelerate that progress.

Also on Wednesday, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation conducted an unannounced inspection of the Lamont Campus to ensure that we are appropriately handling hazardous materials and hazardous waste. The inspector audited our records and visited a number of laboratories, our hazardous waste accumulation area, and our Buildings and Grounds industrial chemical stores. Pat O’Reilly reports, “I am very pleased to say we not only passed this inspection with flying colors, but also with glowing praise for the quality of our program and our genuine commitment to environmental protection. Congratulations are in order for our Safety Department, consisting of Howie Matza and Cathy Troutman, who keep us ‘inspection ready’ at all times. Thanks go also to Columbia University's Environmental Health and Safety Department for their invaluable support and training. And special kudos are in order for our research personnel in our laboratories who make the effort each and every day to comply with these important regulations. All of you have my admiration and warmest regards.”

Chris Small received his Golden Goose Award ( at a ceremony yesterday at the Library of Congress for his work with Joel Cohen on hypsographic demography. The award, created three years ago by a coalition of business, university, and scientific organizations, honors researchers whose federally funded research has resulted in significant benefits to society, far beyond those that might have been expected at the time of the original proposal. A Stacy Morford story on Chris’s work appears on Lamont’s web pages (

Several Lamont scientists were in the news this week. Park Williams was quoted in stories Monday on the findings from an analysis of tree rings from blue oaks in California’s Central Valley that snow levels in the Sierra Nevada this year were the lowest they’ve been in five centuries ( The fall issue of Columbia Magazine includes stories on the discovery by Christopher Lepre, Dennis Kent, and colleagues of stone tools 700 thousand years older than any previously documented ( and on the work of Steve Chillrud and his colleagues at the Mailman School of Public Health on the effect of volumetric breathing rate on the particulate doses inhaled by New York City bicyclists (

This afternoon, the Earth Science Colloquium series will kick off a new season with a talk by biogeochemist Adina Paytan, from the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz ( Adina will be speaking on “Aerosol impacts on marine ecosystems.”

Following the colloquium, at 4:30 pm, our Tree-Ring Laboratory will be hosting a party, to which everyone from Lamont is invited, in celebration of the laboratory’s 40th anniversary. A story on the lab’s history and impact by Stacy Morford, accompanied by photographs contributed by Brendan Buckley, Rosanne D’Arrigo, Nicole Davi, Francesco Fiondella, Gordon Jacoby, Paul Krusic, Tony Rath, and Park Williams, has been posted on our web site (

Nicole Davi and her passion for dendrochronology figure in another event this weekend. The book “About Trees” by artist Katie Holten, to be released this Sunday (, includes an essay by Nicole on tree’s clocks and climate change. The book “is essentially an edited compilation of texts about, yes, trees, but also about forests, landscapes of the anthropocene, unkempt wildness, altered ecosystems, and, more broadly speaking, the idea of nature itself…It's an impressively nuanced selection, one that veers between the encyclopedic and the folkloric, and it has been given a great and memorable graphic twist by the fact that Holten generated a new font using nothing less than the silhouettes of trees. Every letter of the alphabet corresponds to a specific species of tree.”

For those who will be relying on the shuttle to return to the city this evening after the TRL party, particularly for those who have begun to contemplate their name written out in an alphabet of trees, an extra shuttle has been scheduled for the 7 pm departure slot.