Lamont Weekly Report, April 21, 2017

    It has been a week bookended by named lectures.

    On Tuesday, the Vetlesen Lectures were given by the 2017 Vetlesen Prize Laureates, Mark Cane and Princeton University’s George Philander ( Mark spoke on “The ENSO mechanism: What’s under the hood,” and George followed with a talk on “The hedgehog and the fox: A Nelson Mandela perspective on global warming.” On Wednesday evening, in the Low Library Rotunda, the two Laureates were feted in a black-tie ceremony. Attendance broke records for the dinner event. Many from Lamont were there, even if the men among them were barely recognizable in attire rarely seen at the Observatory.

    Earlier on Wednesday, as if in honor of Mark and George, asteroid 2014 JO25, its long dimension about 1.3 km, flew by Earth at a distance of 1.8 million kilometers (, less than a factor of 5 greater than the mean Earth-Moon distance.

    A pair of papers in this week’s issue of Nature magazine by Robin Bell, Jonny Kingslake, Alexandra Boghosian, Winnie Chu, Indrani Das, Marco Tedesco, Kirsty Tinto, Chris Zappa, and colleagues from Italy, Korea, and the United Kingdom drew attention to the movement of surface meltwater through rivers and associated surface drainage systems across Antarctic ice sheets and ice shelves. Such drainage systems, if they extend to the ocean, could forestall the weakening and fracturing of ice shelves by the effects of water stored in ponds and crevasses. Alternatively, surface drainage systems could deliver water to the most vulnerable portions of ice shelves. The authors argued that new models for ice sheet dynamics are needed that incorporate the effects of such drainage systems. A Kevin Krajick press release on the two papers appeared on our web page on Wednesday (, and the story was picked up by The Washington Post ( and other media.  

    Tomorrow will be Earth Day (, the day of the March for Science in Washington, D.C. (, New York City, and more than 500 other locations. To all those from Lamont who will be participating in one of the marches, may the weather be fair and the voices of the marchers heard.

    In celebration of Earth Day, the Campus Life Committee had scheduled Bike-to-Work events from Manhattan and from Nyack and Piermont for this morning, but those events have been postponed one week in the hope of clearer skies. Bikers who participate in either event will be treated to free breakfasts in the Lamont Café.

    Also slated for Friday next week will be the opening of the 3rd Annual Research as Art Exhibition, to be held in the Comer Atrium and Seminar Room following the colloquium. The exhibition ( is being organized by Anna Barth, Kyle Frischkorn, Joshua Russell, Hannah Rabinowitz, and Maayan Yehudai.

    In the news this week, Park Williams was quoted in a story Monday on Climate Central on the increasing probability of severe forest fires in western North America in response to the warming climate ( On Tuesday, Nyack News & Views – in a nod to Earth Day – ran a profile of Robin Bell (

    This afternoon, to finish off the week, former Lamont Postdoctoral Fellow Kenneth Farley, the W. M. Keck Foundation Professor of Geochemistry at Caltech and former chair of their Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences (, will deliver the annual W. S. Jardetzky Lecture ( in the usual colloquium time slot. A Participating Scientist on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity rover) mission and Project Scientist for the 2020 Mars rover mission, Ken will speak on “Geology on Mars: Ongoing results from Curiosity and planning for the next Mars rover.” A reception will follow in the Monell Lower Lobby. Please rove on over to Monell to join me for both events.