Lamont Weekly Report, January 10, 2014

    The arrival of January means that you can gaze at an image of Peter deMenocal for a full month, at least if you have a copy of the Climate Models calendar as I do (
    The lion that shares the calendar image with Peter may symbolize the weather we’ve experienced so far this month. The first major snowstorm of the year shut down Lamont (and an issue of this report) last Friday, and this week was ushered in by a substantial southward migration of what the media have labeled the “polar vortex,” which drove the temperature reading in Central Park (according to the National Weather Service) from a short-term high of 55°F on Monday morning to 4°F one morning later.
    To those who might be tempted to view the widespread cold temperatures across much of the U.S. this week as evidence against long-term global warming, Adam Sobel offered a thoughtful reply Tuesday in an opinion piece on the Cable News Network (
    As many of you know, the procedures for review and promotion of Lamont Assistant and Associate Research Professors have been changing as we seek improvements to the review process and the setting of milestones so that all reviews are completed in a timely fashion and our younger faculty colleagues receive regular and optimally constructive guidance on their professional growth. On Monday, Art Lerner-Lam, Kathy Callahan, and I met with Stephen Rittenberg, Columbia’s Vice Provost for Academic Administration, to begin the discussions needed to ensure that all of our procedural changes are compliant with university policies. On Wednesday, Art, Kathy, Kuheli Dutt, Kim Lundberg, Rachel Roberts, and I met with Jim Davis, chair of Lamont’s Promotions and Careers Subcommittee, to discuss the most appropriate timing of P&C Subcommittee deliberations for the Developmental, Critical, and Major Reviews. The portion of the Lamont Research Professor Handbook that sets out the expectations and procedures for reviews and promotions of members of the Junior Staff is in the process of revision to bring the text into agreement with current practice, and an updated version will be circulated shortly to Associate Directors and Lamont’s Executive Committee for discussion and feedback.
    There has been considerable positive feedback on the new look to Lamont’s home webpage, but it has not gone unnoticed that some of the oft-used links are no longer located on the same part of the page that they once were. For instance, links to Campus Services, Campus Life, a Site Map, and staff login are now in a menu at the bottom of the home page, where there is also a link to the Earth Institute’s web pages.
    Lamont’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Committee ( met on Thursday to narrow the list of the most outstanding applicants for Lamont Postdoctoral Fellow positions in the coming academic year. Among the 151 applicants, a record figure, there are many strong candidates, and committee members are gathering as much advice from Lamont colleagues as possible. If you are asked by a committee member for your feedback on one or more of the applicants, please respond promptly.
    On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal carried an article on the first International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences, jointly awarded by Elsevier and Lamont’s Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA) facility, directed by Kerstin Lehnert and Suzanne Carbotte ( The article quotes Kerstin on the rationale for the selection of this year’s winner, the Nimbus Data Rescue Project. Honorable mention went to a project by Paul Richards and his Russian and Kazakh colleagues to archive Soviet-era seismic records of nuclear explosions and earthquakes from the Borovoye Geophysical Observatory (
    A story Thursday by two reporters for Environment and Energy Publishing on the possibility that earthquakes in Texas are being induced by the downhole injection of wastewater from natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing mentioned the work of John Armbruster and Won-Young Kim on the field recording and analysis of earthquakes in a similar setting near an injection well in Ohio ( Lamont Alumni Board member Art McGarr was quoted in the article as well.
    Temperatures for the campus next week, although generally seasonal, are at least predicted to stay in double digits (in °F). I’m not sure whether I will be around much of the week to enjoy them, however. On Monday morning I am scheduled to report to the New York County branch of the Supreme Court of the State of New York for jury duty. Perhaps I should bring along Peter’s lion to assist me with voir dire.