This was a week in which the Earth remained much in the news.
Director's Weekly Reports
This week began with hurricane Dorian striking the northwestern Bahamas as an historically devastating storm, Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. After an extraordinarily lengthy pause, Dorian’s path turned northward to follow the U.S. southeastern coast.
The last week before Labor Day and the start of fall classes is a traditional week for vacations at Columbia – indeed the entire university administration is rumored to be away – and I have followed this tradition. Nonetheless, the pace of science is not slowed markedly by the summer getaways of scientists (or administrators), as the following news attests.
Yesterday, the American Geophysical Union announced, in an Eos article by Robin Bell, the good news that two more Lamont scientists are to be honored at this year’s Fall Meeting in December (https://eos.org/agu-news/2019-agu-union-medal-award-and-prize-recipients-announced). Maureen Raymo will receive the 2019 Maurice Ewing Medal, jointly awarded once per year by AGU and the U.S.
Yesterday, the American Geophysical Union announced the good news that Rosanne D’Arrigo and Lorenzo Polvani have been named 2019 AGU Fellows (https://eos.org/agu-news/2019-class-of-agu-fellows-announced). In Robin Bell’s Eos article introducing the 2019 class of Fellows, she wrote, “AGU Fellows are recognized for their scientific eminence in the Earth and space sciences. Their breadth of interests and the scope of their contributions are remarkable and often groundbreaking.
This week began for me in Woods Hole, where I attended a meeting of the Council of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. As the governing body of the academy, the Council is responsible for stewarding NAS finances and other assets, guiding policies on membership, developing academy positions on scientific issues, and overseeing NAS programs. The Council is also currently completing the first NAS strategic plan and developing procedures for responding to any alleged violations of the academy’s newly adopted Code of Conduct.
I am pleased to report that Arnold Gordon is to receive the 2020 Henry Stommel Research Medal from the American Meteorological Society. According to AMS, the medal is given “in recognition of outstanding contributions to the advancement of the understanding of the dynamics and physics of the ocean.
I am pleased to report that Adam Sobel and Mingfang Ting have been elected Fellows of the American Meteorological Society. According to AMS, Fellows “shall have made outstanding contributions to the atmospheric or related oceanic or hydrologic sciences or their applications during a substantial period of years,” and no more than “two-tenths of 1 percent of all AMS members” may be elected Fellow in a given year. Congratulations, Adam and Mingfang!
Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, when mankind first set foot on another planetary body. The milestone – arguably as important for understanding the Moon and its lessons for the early history of our solar system as was the contemporary plate tectonics revolution for understanding our own planet – has been much in the news this month.
The Earth has been much in the news during the first half of this summer season. Heat waves in India (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/13/world/asia/india-heat-wave-deaths.html) and Europe (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/03/climate/hottest-june-on-record.html) set new daily and monthly temperature records.
The Lamont Weekly Report is on vacation this week, as am I. May you all have an enjoyable Independence Day tomorrow.
I am pleased to report that, as a result of successfully completing their promotion reviews this spring, Michael Kaplan and Donna Shillington will be promoted to full Lamont Research Professor, effective next week. Please join me in congratulating Mike and Donna on their new rank!
The Lamont community was saddened to learn this week that mineral physicist and former Lamont scientist Orson Anderson passed away Wednesday in Salt Lake City at the age of 94. Orson’s leadership of the mineral physics group at Lamont was recently chronicled by Lamont alumnus Bob Liebermann (https://www.mdpi.com/2075-163X/9/6/342).
I am pleased to report that, as a result of successfully completing their Developmental Reviews this spring, Christine McCarthy and Nicolás Young will be promoted to Lamont Associate Research Professor, Junior Staff, effective July. Please join me in congratulating Christine and Nicolás on their new rank!
For most of this week I was in South Hadley, Massachusetts, at a Gordon Research Conference on the Interior of the Earth.
This week began with a New York Times story that the U.S. Geological Survey Director, as part of the Trump administration’s aggressive and sustained policy of climate change denial, announced that USGS would use climate model projections only through the year 2040 rather than longer-range forecasts (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/27/us/politics/trump-climate-science.html).
This week featured Commencement at Columbia. To all who received degrees, congratulations on your latest professional milestone! Even as blue robes filled the Morningside Campus, several different types of milestones were met on the Lamont Campus.
The last phases of the academic year seemed to accelerate into view this week, with final examinations ending today and an explosion of tents, grandstands, and fences on the Morningside Campus indicating that Commencement will be held next week. The week also brought multiple welcome milestones to staff and students at Lamont.
Signs this week that the academic year is drawing to a close at American universities included the last day of classes at Columbia on Monday, the start of Columbia’s final exam period today, and the fact that I have been off campus all week to attend the college graduation of a grandson yesterday. Because of that last milestone, this Weekly Report is shorter than its usual length.
A highlight of the week was the announcement Tuesday morning that Göran Ekström had been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences. A Marie Aronsohn story on Göran, his work, and his election is posted on our web site (https://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/seismologist-göran-ekström-elected-national-academy-sciences).