Lamont Weekly Report, August 3, 2018

    On Monday, the American Geophysical Union – via an article in Eos written by AGU President-elect Robin Bell ( – announced the 2018 Section awardees. Steve Goldstein is to receive the Norman L. Bowen Award of the Volcanology, Geochemistry and Petrology Section; and the Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology Section will give their Willi Dansgaard Award to Bärbel Hönisch and their Harry Elderfield Outstanding Paper Award to Kassandra Costa. The Bowen Award “is given annually by the VGP Section for outstanding contributions to volcanology, geochemistry or petrology” (; previous recipients have included Alex Halliday and Peter Kelemen. The Dansgaard Award is given “for significant contributions in the PP Section within 8–20 years post-degree;” Jerry McManus received the award two years ago ( The Elderfield Award recognizes “a late stage PhD graduate student in the PP Section with the purpose to promote excellence in the next generation of paleoceanographers and paleoclimatologists” (; Kassandra is receiving the first Elderfield Award. A Marie Aronsohn story on our web site gives additional details ( Kudos to Steve, Bärbel, and Kassandra!

    The Ocean and Climate Physics Division this week welcomed the arrival of Postdoctoral Research Scientist Honghai Zhang. Honghai holds a 2015 Ph.D. from the University of Miami, where he completed a thesis under the supervision of Amy Clement. For the last three years, he’s been a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University and the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, where he worked with Tom Delworth. Honghai has broad interests in climate dynamics, particularly tropical dynamics and tropical-extratropical interactions. He has worked on the detection and attribution of anthropogenic climate change and understanding the physical mechanisms of hydroclimate variability on regional and global scales. At Lamont, he will work with Richard Seager and others on the links between sea-surface temperature (SST) patterns in the tropical Indian and Pacific and climate extremes, the causes of tropical Pacific SST trends, and asymmetries in tropical climate about the intertropical convergence zone. 

    Monday this week was Marie Tharp’s birthday. Physics Today ran a short “Today in History” story (, and Forbes posted a somewhat longer article ( Both highlighted Tharp’s discovery of the global mid-ocean ridge system.

    On Tuesday, Weston Anderson successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis, which posits that “Climate variability poses a correlated risk to global food production.” A few days before his defense, Weston had the time to post a blog on the influence of an El Niño Southern Oscillation event on global crop yields ( Weston’s thesis committee included his supervisor, Richard Seager, as well as Mark Cane; IRI’s Walter Baethgen; Ruth DeFries from the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology; and Molly Brown from the Department of Geographic Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park. Weston has accepted an EI Postdoctoral Fellowship to work with Alessandra Giannini and Lisa Goddard at IRI and Michael Puma at the Center for Climate Systems Research on an investigation of the potential for crop production failures in multiple areas forced by natural climate variability and anthropogenic climate change, as well as how such failures would impact global food security. Congratulations, Dr. Anderson!

    Also on Tuesday, the White House announced that President Trump would nominate Kelvin Droegemeier to be Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Droegemeier is the Vice President for Research and Regents’ Professor of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, and he’s also Oklahoma Cabinet Secretary of Science and Technology. He co-founded and directed the Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, an NSF Science and Technology Center, and the Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere, an NSF Engineering Research Center. He served for 12 years on the National Science Board, four years as Vice Chair, under Presidents G. W. Bush and Obama. He holds a B.S. in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Reaction from the scientific community to date has generally been positive (

    On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its annual State of the Climate Report. The report, available on the web site of the American Meteorological Society (, is “compiled by NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate at the National Centers for Environmental Information” and “provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments located on land, water, ice, and in space.” For instance, 2017 logged in as the warmest non-El Niño year on record. Radley Horton was quoted in a National Public Radio story on the report (

    Wednesday was also to have been the deadline – by 11:59 pm EDT, specifically – for submitting abstracts of papers for presentation at the AGU Fall Meeting, which will be held for the first time in Washington, D.C., this December. As those who tried to gain access to the AGU home page or Fall Meeting web sites on Wednesday evening discovered, however, those sites were not up to the traffic in the final few hours before the deadline. By 9 pm EDT Wednesday night, AGU had set up an alternative submission pathway and announced a 12-hour extension of the deadline. I hope that all from Lamont who seek to present their work at that meeting found a way to submit their information.

    Yesterday afternoon, Lamont’s Summer Interns presented reports on their individual research projects. Each intern gave a well-rehearsed one-minute, one-slide introduction to his or her project during an oral session in Monell Auditorium. The audience, which included family members and friends of the interns as well as mentors and other representatives of the Lamont community, then walked to the Comer Atrium, where the interns gave expanded presentations on their work at a poster session.

    This Sunday’s New York Times Magazine will be covered in black and filled by a single article, entitled “Losing Earth: The decade we almost stopped climate change.” Written by Nathanial Rich over a period of 18 months, the story chronicles the history of scientific discovery and political action (and inaction) on greenhouse gas emissions and their consequences for global climate ( Jim Hansen figures prominently, and Wally Broecker, Taro Takahashi, and Adam Sobel receive mention, as do many of the giants of Earth science from the past four decades. Rich’s article is accompanied by stunning aerial photos and videos of recent climate change impacts, all acquired over the past year by photographer George Steinmetz. The story is frustrating and frightening, but it is riveting. It should be required reading for everyone at Lamont.