Lamont Weekly Report, August 21, 2020

     Hello Friends,  I’ll start this week with a big shout-out to Marco Tedesco whose new book “The Hidden Life of Ice: Dispatches from a Disappearing World” was published this week. Described as “an urgent tribute to an awe-inspiring place that may be gone all too soon,” you can read more about it and an interview with Marco on the EI blog.  Marco, it is such a bummer we cannot have a TGIF book launch party for you, but maybe we can revisit this in spring when the paperback edition comes out.  What a wonderful accomplishment and testament to the months and years you’ve spent in the field studying the Arctic and Greenland. Congratulations also on recently being elected a Fellow of The Explorers Club.  We have growing contingent at Lamont!

     From the hidden life of ice to the hidden life of plants, many of us enjoyed Dr. Hope Jahren’s Summer Stars Lecture “Be as a Tree Planted by the Waters: The Magic of Roots, Leaves, and Everything in Between” this past Tuesday.  Certainly Hope solved the “mystery” of how sunflowers move throughout the day (for me anyway) and I agree with Marie Aronsohn who shared with me afterwards, “I’ll never look at my plants the same way”.

     Radley Horton was also featured, along with the Sabin Center’s Ama Francis, in Tuesday’s EI Earth Series event “The Heat is On: The Climate Imperative”, moderated by Alex Halliday.  They discussed the challenges of climate and sea level change and how the impacts on human migration could be profound.  The event was a perfect expression of the potential and promise of the new Columbia Climate School—scientists predicting physical changes to the environment, which impact people and communities, that need legal mechanisms and strategies to adapt and cope.  None of us will be able to solve the climate problem in isolation.

     Thank you to graduate student Elizabeth Case for forwarding the link to a podcast she participated in this week.  ExoLore is hosted and produced by Moiya McTier, who's working on her PhD in astrophysics at Columbia. In her podcasts she brings together scientists, writers, humorists, and others to discuss the geology, climate and cultures of worlds real, past, and imagined. 

     One last science story out this week: Paul Richards was quoted in a fascinating National Geographic article this week on the rotation of the Earth’s inner core—more specifically on the fact that the Earth’s inner core, a  moon-size ball of iron floating within an ocean of molten iron and nickel metal (e.g. the outer core), actually rotates faster than the Earth itself.  This phenomenon, called super-rotation, was discovered by Paul decades ago although scientists are still arguing about the details of how fast this super-rotation is or whether it even exists.  It just seems unbelievable that a few thousand miles below our feet, a giant metal ball is spinning in a molten ocean faster than the Earth itself.  And yet it moves….I wonder what
Galileo would have thought of that!

     Some good news on campus is that we are upgrading the air filters in most of our air handlers from MERV8 to MERV13, which is recommended by the CDC as a response to COVID.  This will improve indoor air quality, going from a residential quality to a hospital grade filter.  It is nowhere near as effective as a HEPA filter but we cannot make the leap to HEPA without replacing our air handlers with new units with high strength filter racks and powerful fans and motors.  Such air handlers are bigger than the units we have and require more electrical power, so this would not be a simple replacement.  Ever forward.

     Changing gears, I’m sure many of you noticed that the Lamont mental health and DEI survey results were sent out earlier today.  It was with a heavy heart that I shared this survey because, as we all know, the overwhelming changes to our work and home lives wrought by the COVID-19 epidemic have probably only exacerbated the anxieties and stress detailed in that report. Now more than ever must we pay attention to our personal wellness and mental health and try to figure out new, effective ways of working while remaining healthy and safe.  To that end, I want to draw your attention to a blog post written by Ryan Abernathy this week that systematically outlines how he plans to carry out research and run his research group during the coming months.  Ryan, your approach is super inspiring and I’m sure your post will help many, at Lamont and beyond, get more organized and become more effective mentors and leaders in this strange new world.  Thank you for sharing that.

     I’d like to end with a quote, a suggestion for us all, from the mental health survey: "Just continue to see and listen, try to be kinder, more inclusive.  I love Lamont and feel it is a community of really wonderful people, and I now see there are some who are left out and need to be made welcome. It starts with each of us”. 

     To whomever wrote this (and I don’t know or need to know) thank you for your inspiring words.  Namaste.

     Have a peaceful weekend.   Mo






Study Says that Stronger Rains in Warmer Climates Reduce Heat Damage in Crops
Agriculture Monthly 
August 19, 2020
Article on research by Lamont Ph.D. student Corey Lesk, climate scientist Radley Horton, and colleague.

Advising and Collaborating during a Pandemic and Sabbatical
August 18, 2020
Article by Lamont physical oceanographer Ryan Abernathey.

Trump Administration to Approve Arctic Wildlife Refuge for Oil and Gas Drilling
Live Science 
August 17, 2020
Article quotes Lamont ecologist Natalie Boelman.

Alfred Wegener and the Continental Drift
August 14, 2020
Article features pioneering Lamont geologist Marie Tharp.

Sea'ing the Future of Underwater Exploration
August 12, 2020
Article features pioneering Lamont geologist Marie Tharp.

Should We Name Heat Waves Like We Name Hurricanes?
CBS News 
August 6, 2020
Article cites research by Lamont Ph.D. Colin Raymond (now NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory postdoc), climate scientist Radley Horton, and colleague.

The World of Watermelon Snow 
July 26, 2020 
Podcast features Lamont Ph.D. student Elizabeth Case.



STEMSEAS: Not Just an Internship, An Adventure
August 18, 2020 
The seagoing expedition program designed to bring diversity to the geosciences goes virtual.

Fall 2020 Earth Institute Research Assistant Opportunities
August 14, 2020 
The Earth Institute is offering undergraduate students with research assistant opportunities during the fall 2020 semester. Undergraduates from Columbia and Barnard will be able to serve as research assistants on projects related to sustainable development and the environment.

Fall 2020 Earth Institute Internship Opportunities
August 14, 2020 
The Earth Institute is offering undergraduate, graduate and PhD students opportunities to intern in various departments and research centers in a variety of administration, communications and research roles.