Lamont Weekly Report, September 4, 2015

     Climate change was much in the news this week, during President Obama’s visit to Alaska and his speech Monday in Anchorage stressing the urgency of the issue and the need for global action ( In one of his remarks, the President indirectly quoted Meredith Nettles in a comment on the rate of loss of glacial ice in Alaska and how to visualize most readily a gigaton of ice, as reported Tuesday (

     Also on the theme of Arctic climate change, Shannan Sweet is defending her Ph.D. thesis this afternoon in the Comer Seminar Room. Her thesis research, supervised by Natalie Boelman, is on “The impact of deciduous shrub dominance on phenology, carbon flux, and arthropod biomass in the Alaskan arctic tundra.” Congratulations should be in order by the end of the day.

     Congratulations are due, too, to Wally Broecker, who will be inducted later this month into the Hall of Fame of Closter, New Jersey ( The creation of the Hall of Fame by Closter’s Historical Society is intended as a means to honor “interesting and influential people” who have lived in the borough. The late Yankee legend Mickey Mantle is among the athletes, musicians, artists, writers, and scientists who will be inducted along with Wally. (Also to be inducted is the Dwarskill mastodon.)

     On Saturday, the R/V Langseth put into Woods Hole after completing a cruise led by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of New Hampshire to conduct a multi-beam and underway geophysical mapping survey designed to improve the definition of the seaward boundaries of the U.S. extended continental shelf under the guidelines of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The survey completed nearly 11,000 line kilometers, at speeds up to 14 kts, and the final maps encompass about 180,000 km2 in three areas. Chief Scientist Brian Calder (UNH) wrote to Sean Higgins near the end of the cruise, “The data have been really great and are telling a really interesting story both geologically and for the ECS project. And, as I said before (but don’t mind saying again), the cooperation and support we’ve had from the ship’s crew and the science support team out here have been second to none. I’ve done a lot of this ECS sailing in the last ~12 years. This has been by far the best support that I’ve experienced.”

     Yesterday, the Langseth embarked on a cruise sponsored by the National Science Foundation to conduct electromagnetic sounding surveys to characterize groundwater in continental margin sediments off Martha’s Vineyard and New Jersey. The cruise, about 12 days in duration and led by Rob Evans of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Kerry Key of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, involves towing a small electromagnetic source over the target areas.

     Also yesterday, applications opened for Lamont Postdoctoral Fellowships for 2016 ( The application deadline is 16 November. The Postdoctoral Fellowship Committee this year is chaired by Park Williams and includes Hugh Ducklow, Ben Holtzman, Chris Small, Gisela Winckler, Chris Zappa, and Kuheli Dutt as an ex officio member.

     In a paper published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, Usama Anber, Adam Sobel, and two Earth Institute colleagues argued that most atmospheric general circulation models fail to match several key aspects of the climate of the Amazon region, notably including precipitation and evapotranspiration and their seasonal and diurnal variations. In contrast, in new models in which convection and clouds are explicitly resolved and large-scale circulation is parameterized, these aspects of the Amazonian climate system are well represented. In particular, the morning fog layer during the Amazonian wet season plays a key role in increasing cloud albedo and decreasing evapotranspiration. The group’s work constitutes a substantial advance in our understanding of land climates in the tropics. A Stacy Morford story on the paper appears on our website (

     Stacy also posted a story Wednesday on Lamont’s plans to utilize the power from two solar farms now in development to supply three-fourths of the campus electricity needs (

     Several other Lamont scientists have been in the news this week. A story Saturday on Climate Central ( on research regarding the influence of global warming and other climate changes on hurricane severity in the decade since Hurricane Katrina includes extensive commentary from Suzana Camargo and Adam Sobel. An Australian Broadcasting Corporation posting yesterday features the work of Maya Tolstoy on the analysis of Indian Ocean hydrophone records of T waves from the great tsunami-generating Sumatra-Andaman earthquake of 2004 and includes an audio playback of one of those records (

     The fall semester begins next week, with classes starting on Tuesday. Whether your thoughts turn more to polar ice loss, tropical storms, or sound transmission in the oceans, you have a three-day weekend over which to prepare for the uptick in the pace of the academic schedule.