For most of this week I was in South Hadley, Massachusetts, at a Gordon Research Conference on the Interior of the Earth.
Director's Weekly Reports
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).
This was a week that will be remembered primarily for events unrelated to Earth science, from the horrific fire Monday night at the Notre Dame cathedral to yesterday’s release of the Mueller report. The Earth nonetheless featured in a New York Times story Wednesday on the views of all 18 declared Democratic candidates for President on how best to address climate change (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/18/us/politics/climate-change-democrats.html).
The Lamont community was saddened this week to learn of the death Sunday of geologist Neil Opdyke (https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/gainesville/obituary.aspx?n=neil-d-opdyke&pid=192215979&fhid=21866). Neil obtained his undergraduate degree in geology in 1955 at Columbia, where he was captain of the university’s football team. After obtaining his Ph.D.
This past weekend I was in Washington, D.C., and the cherry trees lining the Tidal Basin were at peak bloom. It felt as though spring was well underway.
Notwithstanding spring’s later arrival date on the Lamont Campus, there have been scientific milestones aplenty at this time of year.
The first full week of northern hemisphere spring brought multiple milestones.
This week has been Spring Recess at Columbia. There have been no classes, and there is no Earth Science Colloquium this afternoon.
For another week, the fourth in a row, the extended Lamont family lost one its members. Herman Galberd, Manager of Administrative Services at Lamont from 1979 until his retirement in 1994, passed away on Sunday. Herman joined Columbia University’s Electronics Research Lab in 1956, and from 1962 to 1979 he was Director of Research Services in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, so he worked for Columbia for a total of 38 years.
For the third week in a row, the Lamont community was saddened by the loss of a long-term member. Paleoclimatologist Andrew McIntyre passed away on Saturday. Andy was a double alumnus of Columbia University, with a B.S. in 1954 and a Ph.D. in 1967. His first position at Columbia after college, in 1959, was as an Assistant in Sedimentation and Invertebrate Paleoecology, Biostratigraphy and Geomorphology. After several instructor posts, he held the position of Research Scientist at Lamont until he completed his doctorate.
This week brought more sad news regarding two long-term members of the Lamont extended community. Seismologist Paul Pomeroy, a Lamont alumnus and former Observatory staff member, passed away on Sunday. Paul obtained his Ph.D. here in 1963, and he continued working at Lamont as a Research Associate and Senior Research Associate until moving to the University of Michigan in 1968.
Wally Broecker, one of the leading intellectual engines of scientific innovation at Lamont for 67 of the institution’s 70 years, passed away on Monday. His loss is keenly felt by his family and his friends and colleagues across the campus, the university, and the global scientific community.
Monday was the fourth annual International Day of Women and Girls in Science (http://www.un.org/en/events/women-and-girls-in-science-day/), and a slide show on Lamont’s Women in Science, prepared by Kuheli Dutt and first shown at last fall’s Open House, was posted to mark the occasion (https://diversity.ldeo.columbia.edu/content/women-science-lamont).
NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies announced this week that 2018 was the fourth-warmest year on record (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/02/06/climate/fourth-hottest-year.html). As measured by Earth’s average surface temperature, 18 of the 19 warmest years have occurred since 2001, and the last five years have been the five warmest. Last year was more than 1°C warmer than the average temperature of the pre-industrial era.
The American Academy of Microbiology announced this week that Sonya Dyhrman has been elected a 2019 Fellow.
This week included the first classes for the spring semester, a celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr.