Lamont Weekly Report, April 5, 2013

     Over the week I heard many comments about unseasonably cold temperatures in the New York City area. Reports from informed colleagues that the North Atlantic Oscillation may have been a contributor offered little in the way of additional warmth. 

     I am pleased to report that Klaus Jacob has been named a Hero of the Harbor by New York’s Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. Klaus was “nominated and chosen by a selection committee consisting of key members of the diverse NY–NJ waterfront community for [his] efforts to tell the citizens of New York and others about the threats that the city and region continue to confront in the face of a warming planet and extreme climate events.” He will be honored at the Alliance’s 2013 Waterfront Conference on Tuesday of next week at Pier 40 aboard the Hornblower Infinity during the meeting's afternoon cocktail hour (
     Jim Hansen announced this week that he is retiring from NASA and stepping down as director of Goddard Institute for Space Studies after 46 years with the agency ( Gavin Schmidt will serve as acting director at GISS while a search for a permanent director is underway.
     The Langseth sailed from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic this week. This weekend the ship will stop in Bermuda to pick up the scientific party for a five-week cruise to study the seismic structure of the Rainbow Hydrothermal Field, located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge south of the Azores. The investigation, led by Pablo Canales of WHOI, will address the nature of the heat source fueling high-temperature hydrothermal circulation, the structure of the ultramafic massif that hosts the hydrothermal field, and the geometry of large- and small-scale faults in the region and their influence on hydrothermal recharge and discharge.
     New arrivals at Lamont this week include Jessica Levinson, who is replacing Sandra Yoshida as the Administrative Assistant for the Superfund Group in the Geochemistry Division. Other new arrivals in that division are Melania Maqway, a part-time Staff Associate who will be working for four months in Conny Class’s group, and Foyruz Kabir, a Programmer/Analyst who will be working for two months with Steve Chillrud.
     In news from Washington, D.C., the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) announced on Monday that they have opened a full-time office to “advocate on behalf of its 104 member universities that study the atmosphere and work to improve weather forecasting.” On Tuesday, former U.S. Geological Survey director Marcia McNutt was named as the new editor-in-chief of Science magazine, effective 1 June ( The President’s budget for fiscal year 2014 is expected to be rolled out next week, two months later than normal.
     On Wednesday evening, at The University Seminars 69th Annual Dinner Meeting on the second floor of Faculty House, Wally Broecker was the featured speaker. One of only a handful of scientists tapped to deliver the Tannenbaum Lecture since that lecture series began in 1971, Wally spoke on the topic “What drives ice ages?” The many Lamonters in the audience were treated to a presentation on links between atmospheric CO2 content and surface temperature revealed in paleoclimate and historical records and some of the implications of global warming for atmospheric circulation and global rainfall patterns.
     On Thursday, Adam Sobel delivered the second in the series of Lamont’s Spring Public Lectures. For the first time in the 15 years of that lecture series, a Lamont Public Lecture was given in New York City, at the AppNexus Auditorium in the Flatiron District. In a talk entitled “The science behind Sandy,” Adam wove the threads of the large-scale dynamical structures, hurricane dimensions, neighboring storm system, and tidal phase that contributed to the unusual track, storm surge magnitude, and other characteristics of Hurricane Sandy. The questions he received following his talk and continuously during the hour-long reception that followed bespoke of the strong interest that his presentation stimulated across his audience.
     Today we host the 17th annual W. S. Jardetzky Lecture by Ellen Mosley-Thompson ( Ellen, a Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University, will speak on “Past and contemporary climate change: Evidence from Earth’s ice cover.” A gift from W. S. Jardetzky’s son, Oleg Jardetzky, has enabled the minting of a special medallion to be given to each Jardetzky Lecturer, past, present, and future. Three former Jardetzky Lecturers, including John Delaney and Don Forsyth, will be given their medallions in a ceremony that will precede today’s lecture. I hope that you will join me for today’s lecture and the reception that will follow.