Lamont Weekly Report, April 15, 2016


Today’s date makes me think of income taxes. This year, as with the past several, the hectic spring schedule forces me to throw up my hands and file for extensions on federal and state taxes so I can finish gathering the needed information over the summer. 

The spring schedule, of course, sometimes brings good news. This week, Peter Schlosser learned that he has been elected to membership in the German National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1652, the organization is the oldest continuously operating scientific academy in the world. Congratulations, Peter! 

On Monday, in a visit arranged by Karen Buck, a delegation from Columbia’s Office of Alumni and Development was introduced to the Lamont Campus for the first time. The delegation included Suzanne Altshuler, Senior Director of Development at the Columbia University Medical Center; Anna Barranca-Burke, Chief of Staff in the Office of the Executive Vice President for University Development and Alumni Relations; Brian Chapman, Executive Director, Analytics and Business Strategy; Joanna Hootnick, Executive Director, Campaign Planning and Analysis; and Seth Rosenberg, Senior Training and User Services Specialist. In a roundtable meeting at which Karen and I were joined by Ryan Abernathey, Robin Bell, Kathy Callahan, Peter deMenocal, Jim Gaherty, Art Lerner-Lam, Stacy Morford, and Adam Sobel, the visitors were given an introduction to Lamont and overviews of each the Observatory’s strategic initiatives. The OAD group was then given a tour of the IcePod laboratory by Robin and Nick Frearson, the Tree-Ring Laboratory by Park Williams, and the Core Repository by Nichole Anest. 

From Tuesday to Thursday, I chaired a meeting of the MESSENGER Science Team, held at the headquarters of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C., and also attended by Ellen Crapster-Pregont, Denton Ebel, and Peter James. It was the 36th and final meeting of the team, and we spent most of the meeting discussing the science we had learned from the mission, the questions raised or left unanswered, and candidate future spacecraft missions that could answer those questions. I gave a public lecture on Wednesday evening, also at the Carnegie Institution and also on the MESSENGER mission. 

In the news this week, Maureen Raymo and Anders Levermann were quoted in a BBC story Monday on the future pace and extent of sea level rise that might be expected in response to warming climate and the progressive loss of the major ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica ( For an article in The Washington Post Wednesday on record-breaking early spring melting of the Greenland ice sheet this year, Chris Mooney interviewed Marco Tedesco on the implications for net annual ice mass loss ( And Justin Mankin was quoted in a story yesterday in The Desert Sun on the potential consequences of declining mountain snowpack levels on water supplies in the western United States ( 

This afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by volcanologist and experimental petrologist Julia Hammer, a Professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics ( at the University of Hawaii. Julia will be speaking about “Snowflakes in volcanic rocks: Implications for magmatic processes in basaltic magma reservoirs.” The event will not tax you in the least, so I hope you can attend.