Lamont Weekly Report, April 12, 2013

     Through much of the week, the warmth and sunshine made a convincing case that the spring season is underway, at least in our part of the globe.

     I am pleased to report that Alex Chekalyuk has received an Antarctica Service Medal. The medal is awarded by the National Science Foundation in recognition of service on a U. S. Antarctic expedition. According to the Foundation’s website, “the outer bands of black and dark blue [on the medal’s ribbon] comprise five-twelfths of the ribbon’s width, representing five months of Antarctic darkness; the center portion, by its size and colors – grading from medium blue through light blue and pale blue to white – symbolizes seven months of solar illumination, and also the aurora australi.”

     New to Lamont this week is Postdoctoral Research Scientist Clement Hibert, a seismologist who received his Ph.D. last year from the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris. Clement will be working with Göran Ekström and Colin Stark on the seismological characterization of large landslides.

     The Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) held its second meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Kraft Center. Hosted by the Earth Institute, the well-attended meeting provided a forum to frame sustainable development goals and targets, discuss drafts of SDSN reports, review progress by the network’s thematic groups, and discuss the next steps forward.

     The news from Washington this week focused on Wednesday’s release of the President’s budget for fiscal year 2014. The proposed budgets for most science agencies are modestly higher than in 2012, a more straightforward comparison than with 2013 because of the sequestration. Some details are being circulated by scientific societies, such as AGU ( Of course, the final budget for next year will be the product of months of hearings, mark-ups, and partisan tugs of war. There will be many opportunities for the scientific community to carry the message to Congress that healthy budgets for science agencies are in the best long-term intellectual and economic interests of the nation.

     Louise Rosen, Art Lerner-Lam, Lamont Advisory Board chair Frank Gumper, and I continued to meet with individual members of the Board to solicit their ideas on the Observatory’s evolving programs in communications, outreach, and development. We met with Board members Jeffrey Gould, Kathleen Semergieff, and Larry Lynn last week, and with Adam Wolfensohn, Susan Holgate, and Pat Daly this week.

     At the Council of Deans meeting on Thursday, one of the agenda topics was a reminder of the open request for proposals to the President’s Global Innovation Fund. This newly established fund is intended to provide support for teaching and research faculty who wish to utilize the resources or facilities of one of the eight Columbia Global Centers. Further details can be found online (; proposals are due by 30 May.

     The R/V Langseth departed Thursday evening from St. Georges, Bermuda, where she spent a few more days than planned to make a needed repair to the starboard rudder. She embarked on a cruise to conduct an NSF-funded study of the seismic structure of the Rainbow Hydrothermal Field, located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge south of the Azores. The Langseth’s next port stop will be Ponta Delgada, Azores, in mid-May.

     Several Lamont scientists have engaged in public outreach this week. On Monday evening, Suzanne Carbotte gave a Café Science presentation on “Marine seismic imaging and the Cascadia subduction zone”to a full audience at Picnic Café on the Upper West Side, as part of a lecture series organized by Columbia to showcase current research and engage the public. Tonight Nicole Davi and Francesco Fiondella from IRI will be at the American Museum of Natural History for A Night at the Museum (; Nicole and Francesco will talk to families attending the Museum sleepover event about climate-related research at Lamont and IRI, as well as what it is like to be a scientist or a science communicator. This Sunday, Paul Olsen will give a presentation at the Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside, New Jersey, on some of the local lava flows that may mark the onset of the Triassic-Jurassic extinction (

     Today’s Earth Science Colloquium features Lamont alumnus Aiguo Dai, now a member of the faculty at University at Albany, SUNY, who will be speaking on “Drought under global warming.” On a day that seems far removed from both droughts and warming, I hope that you will join me at the lecture.