From master classes with world-renowned climate scientists and marine geologists to tours of the laboratories in which their discoveries are made, members of the Director’s Circle gain exclusive access to Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and stay informed about groundbreaking advances in Earth and environmental science.
Throughout the year, members receive invitations to events with Lamont-Doherty experts, including an annual Afternoon of Science Master Classes at the Observatory where members and their guests enjoy the rare opportunity to visit labs and join conversations with world-renowned researchers.
The Director’s Circle recognizes supporters of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who contribute annual gifts of $2,000 or more. These gifts include support for an Innovation Fund, which awards annual grants to researchers at the Observatory who are pursuing new areas of scientific investigation.
Director’s Circle events are by invitation only. For more information about becoming a member,
Previous Director’s Circle Events
How Climate and Humans are Shaping Droughts in North America
December 2, 2015 in New York City
A. Park Williams, Lamont Assistant Research Professor, Division of Biology and Paleo Environment
Much of western North America experienced extreme drought during the 2000s, from California's four years of drying to a 15-year drought in the U.S. Southwest that may rival the megadroughts that wreaked havoc on Native American cliff-dwelling societies during the last millennium. There is little doubt that these two droughts were initiated by naturally occurring climate variations, but the degree to which human-caused warming amplified their severity and impact is a matter of hot debate. In this talk, Park Williams discusses natural versus human-caused climate variability, the impact of drought on forests, and what continued warming could mean for the future.
Induced Seismicity: An Accidental Experiment
March 11, 2015 in New York City
Heather Savage, Lamont Associate Research Professor, Division of Seismology, Geology & Tectonophysics
The recent increase in earthquakes from waste-water injection as a result of the hydraulic fracturing process has sparked concern and controversy. However, it has had an unintended, positive effect- as an opportunity for earthquake scientists to study faults and seismicity in a more controlled environment, much as we would in a laboratory. This talk will explore important new insights on the earthquake rupture process gleaned from well-recorded induced events, as well as how these insights might apply to tectonic earthquakes.
Through Rise and Fall: Tidal Effects on Ice Friction and Flow
June 11, 2014 at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Christine McCarthy, Lamont-Doherty Postdoctoral Fellow, Division of Seismology, Geology & Tectonophysics
Our ability to predict sea levels in the near future is contingent on our understanding of the processes responsible for flow of ice streams and glaciers. Observations of cyclic motion at a number of ice streams have shown their sensitivity to ocean tides, even tens of kilometers upstream. However, there are still many puzzling questions related to the mechanics of tidally modulated flow. In order to improve our understanding of complex glacier systems, we are embarking on an experimental study to explore the affect of tides on long-term ice stream strength and stability. Using funds from the Lamont Innovation fund, we have been constructing a custom, cryogenic-friction apparatus that will simulate the physics of a glacier sliding over bedrock. I will discuss the goals of the new project, including some predictions based on what we know about materials science.
Droughts in a Changing Climate: A Tale of Three Current Droughts
March 12, 2014 at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Richard Seager, Palisades Geophysical Institute/Lamont Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Across the world droughts are becoming more frequent, leading to destabilized ecosystems and adversely affecting the human population. Yet within a climate perspective, the causes of droughts have only recently come to be understood. Join Lamont Research Professor Richard Seager as he discusses the causes and stresses of three current droughts in the American west, East Africa
and the eastern Mediterranean.
Climate and Conflict
September 18, 2013 In New York City
Mark Cane, G. Unger Vetlesen Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Why do men fight? Have changes in climate been an important influence in the past? Will they be in the future? Anthropologists and historians have a rich store of anecdotal evidence. A recent, contrasting approach applies quantitative methods to investigate the connection between climate and conflict. This discourse in this
subfield is fittingly cantankerous. Mark Cane will discuss his work on two topics: El Niño and global incidence of civil conflict, and the impact of anthropogenic climate change on the civil war in Syria.
The Disappearing Cryosphere and Antarctica's Changing Ecosystems
June 12, 2013 at Lamont-Doherty
Hugh Ducklow, Professor, Division of Biology and Paleo Environment, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Our biosphere, or biological component of Earth systems, is a tapestry of ecosystems that supports diverse forms of life. These ecosystems are changing -- often in unexpected ways -- in response to rates of warming unprecedented over the past few million years. Climates and ecosystems are changing most rapidly in the cold regions of the planet: the Cryosphere. And among polar ecosystems, no place is being altered faster than the marine ecosystem of the Antarctic Peninsula. Our research documents these changes, suggests mechanisms of change and provides clues to help predict changes throughout the world.
March 12, 2013 in New York City
, Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Geochemistry Research Division, Lamont-Doherty
Nearly half of the world's population depends on water derived from glacier melt and rainfall in the highest of Asia's mountain ranges. And yet how these water resources will respond to ongoing climate change is uncertain. Clues unearthed from beneath the shifting sands of the deep Chinese deserts, as well as at the margins of receding glaciers in the high Bhutan Himalaya, afford insights into the relationships among climate, water, and societal change in this key part of the planet. These clues from the past presage the fate of Asia's water resources in a warming world.
October 27, 2012 at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Our annual Director's Circle luncheon and Afternoon of Science Master Classes began with a presentation by Sean Solomon about NASA's ongoing mission to the planet Mercury. Master Classes included the following options:
Visit a 1,500-ft deep drilling site on our campus where we study carbon capture and storage.
Explore the laboratory where engineers design and build seafloor seismometers.
Tour academia's largest and most comprehensive collection of ocean sediment cores.
Learn how we use satellite images and seismology to detect landslides.
In the final session, a panel honored Marie Tharp, one of the Observatory's pioneers, recognizing the ways in which researchers today are carrying on her tradition of innovation and discovery.
September 12, 2012 in New York City
Floods, droughts, extreme temperatures, and severe storms are occurring with increasing frequency and intensity, breaking records and forming trends that raise urgent new questions about climate change. At this special panel discussion, climate scientists cut through common misconceptions to lay out the facts about climate change and talk about how we can prepare for a future of weather weirdness.
Moderated by Heidi Cullen
, Lamont-Doherty alumna and chief climatologist with Climate Central, the panel included: Lisa Goddard
, Director of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI); Peter B. Kelemen
, Arthur D. Storke Memorial Professor; Richard Seager
, Palisades Geophysical Institute/Lamont Research Professor; and Jason E. Smerdon
, Lamont Associate Research Professor
March 14, 2012 in New York City
Participants learned from Jim Davis about the field of geodesy, which studies the Earth's gravitational field to understand changes in our planet's size, shape, rotation and more. This was followed by a panel, Drilling and Quakes: A Timely Discussion. Arthur Lerner-Lam moderated a discussion with Alberto Malinverno of Lamont's Borehole Research Group, Heather Savage of the Seismology division, and energy specialist Roger Anderson.
October 22, 2011 at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Attendees enjoyed lunch and an opening conversation with geochemist Peter Kelemen titled Peak Earth: Population, Climate and Energy in the 21st Century. Afternoon Master Classes covered topics ranging from assessing rates of change in Antarctica’s vast ice sheets to the long-term ecological impacts of oil plumes in the Gulf of Mexico.