Lamont Weekly Report, December 6, 2013

    The globalization of solar system exploration was again in evidence this week. On Sunday, China launched Chang’e-3, a soft lander that will deliver a rover to the surface of the Moon later this month ( That same day, India’s Mangalyaan spacecraft, launched last month into a parking orbit about Earth, completed a propulsive maneuver that sent it onto a planetary transfer trajectory to Mars ( Chang’e-3 was propulsively inserted into lunar orbit today. The sea of space is becoming increasingly crowded with ships.
    On our own Earth-bound ship, Chief Engineer Al Karlyn retired last week after 26 years of service to Lamont and our Office of Marine Operations. Al started his Observatory career on the R/V Conrad, he moved to the R/V Ewing, and he’s been with the R/V Langseth since the outset of the ship’s operation as a Lamont vessel. Please join me in wishing Al well in his retirement.
    Art Lerner-Lam, Margie Turrin, Xiaojun Yuan and Lamont Advisory Board member Julian Sproule, along with CIESIN’s Mark Becker, returned this week from a 10-day cruise on the French liner Le Boréal to the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The Lamont representatives were guests of the Antarctic Forum, a Chinese non-governmental organization established to promote the scientific study and preservation of Antarctica. The passengers included more than 150 Chinese academics, business leaders, artists, and government officials onboard for a series of keynote lectures, panel discussions, informal salons, and chance encounters to discuss the changing environment in Antarctica and the international politics and economics surrounding climate change. The group visited the Great Wall Station, the first Chinese base in Antarctica. The first director of the station, Prof. Yan Qi De of the Polar Research Institute in Shanghai, led the delegation ashore. Margie posted several entries on the Earth Institute’s State of the Planet blog during the journey ( A series of follow-on joint activities between Lamont scientists and Antarctic Forum members is being planned.
    This week marked the arrival of Park Williams as our newest Lamont Assistant Research Professor. A biogeographer, Park studies the impact of climate variations on terrestrial ecosystems, particularly forests. He holds a B.S. degree in Earth Systems Science from the University of California, Irvine, and a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara. For the last two and half years he’s been a Postdoctoral Researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Park now occupies an office in our Tree Ring Laboratory, and I hope that you find an occasion to welcome him to the campus.
    The Ocean and Climate Physics Division welcomed two new Postdoctoral Research Scientists this week. Atmospheric dynamicist Aiko Voigt has joined Tiffany Shaw’s group after earning his doctorate in 2010 at the University of Hamburg and the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology and postdoctoral positions at the MPI and the Laboratoire de Meteorologie Dynamique in Paris. Ji Nie joins Adam Sobel’s group after obtaining his Ph.D. in atmospheric and climate dynamics at Harvard.
    On Wednesday, Lamont launched a new homepage (, designed with a cleaner look, a more streamlined menu, and improved navigation than its predecessor. We will continue to enhance and add to the website in the coming year through updates to existing pages, expansion of content for our multiple audiences, and the introduction of a Lamont blog. Ariana Falerni, Rebecca Fowler, and Pete Sobel deserve our special thanks for their contributions to this effort.
    On Thursday, biogeoscientist Miriam Marlier successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis, on the topic of “Public health impacts of fires in tropical forests.” Congratulations, Miriam!
    In Monday’s issue of The New Yorker, in “The Talk of the Town” section sandwiched between pieces on Sigmund Freud and Emma Thompson, was an article about the on-campus drilling project of David Goldberg, Dennis Kent, and their colleagues. With dialog worthy of Beckett and “dressed like a prospector,” Dave and Dennis explained the rationale for the group’s study of the feasibility of sequestering carbon in the rocks of the Newark Basin. In Dennis’s words, “You could do it tomorrow.”
    Also in the news this week are stories on an article by Suzanna Camargo, Jonathan Woodruff from the University of Massachusetts, and Jennifer Irish from Virginia Tech in a special section of Thursday’s issue of Nature devoted to coastal regions. Suzanna and her colleagues argue that coastal flooding by tropical cyclones will increase in the future as a result of the global rise of sea level (
    Next week’s Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union promises to be a busy one for Lamont’s attendees. On Sunday, the Marcus Langseth Science Oversight Committee will meet at the JW Marriott San Francisco Union Square. Throughout the week, the scientific sessions will provide opportunities to view presentations by many of the current applicants for Lamont Postdoctoral Fellowships.
    On Tuesday afternoon, Lamont’s Alumni Board will meet from 5 to 6:30 pm on the 30th floor of the Marriott Union Square. Immediately following, at the same location, will be the annual reception for Lamont’s alumni and friends hosted jointly by the Observatory and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. The reception will begin at 6:30 and will continue as long as guests remain (i.e., as long as the bar stations remain open).
    On Wednesday evening, I hope that many from Lamont will be able to secure good seats at AGU’s Honors Tribute to enjoy the pomp and significance of Mark Cane’s receipt of the Union’s Maurice Ewing Medal. See you there.