Lamont Weekly Report, December 11, 2020

     Hello Friends, Welcome to another Friday, COVID-19 Edition.  We are all deep into the American Geophysical Union more-than-two-weeks-long meeting now.  Globally time-zone friendly, it runs from early in the morning to late at night and if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all, you are not alone.  I have that straight from the Lamont grapevine, parents especially.  However, please hold the date December 16th, Wednesday evening at 7 pm, for yet another can’t-miss-event, the annual Lamont Alumni Reception.  Please follow link to register.  And while I magically can’t beam you all free drinks and nibbles, I can promise you some speechifying as well as some special announcements.  So, pour a glass of wine and pull up a couch to your laptop or mirrored TV and join us!

     Thank you to Kevin Krajick at State of the Planet blog for queuing up another great post highlighting Lamont and Earth Institute scientists presenting at AGU.  This week, Lamont scientist Chris Zappa talked on changing Arctic sea ice as seen by indigenous elders and modern science; postdoc Elizabeth Chamberlain talked about the evolution of early societies on the Mississippi Delta; and graduate student Daniel Bishop discussed the climate implications of observations showing the U.S. West is getting drier and the East is getting wetter.  More exciting talks are on the way next week, including postdoc Lucas Gloege deciphering the causes of this year’s epic Siberian heat wave, postdoc Guy Paxman discussing the paleo-lake basin he discovered deep beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet, and postdoc Ching-Yao Lai discussing her innovative methods to study the role of sub-glacial ice streams, or rivers of ice, under Greenland.  It is impressive that so many of these talks are by our graduate students and postdocs, given the always steep competition for oral slots at AGU. 

     Also on the Lamont grapevine are a number of nuggets of noteworthy news.  Dr. Sarah Hurley, currently a postdoc at the University of Colorado in Boulder, has accepted a Lamont Assistant Research Professor position starting next July.  Sarah is a geobiologist, organic geochemist, and a microbial physiologist and will make her scientific home within the BPE division with labs in the New Core Laboratory building.  Sarah uses biomarkers and biosignatures preserved in the geologic record to study the evolution of life and Earth’s climate over millions to billions of years.  Welcome Sarah!

     I’d also like to thank Mark and Barbara Cane, who made a substantial personal gift to the Observatory to endow a professional development fund for the non-LRP scientific staff at Lamont. The gift was established in honor of the superb work of the Lamont staff, which has been essential in making Lamont the world’s premiere Earth science institution.  While endowment incomes can sometimes seem frustratingly small given the need (e.g., we plan to award two annual grants, up to $1500 each, to support professional development), I am optimistic we will continue to grow this particular, essential endowment in the coming years.  Barbara and Mark, thank you for your vision and generosity—I’m sure it will inspire others.

     Given how many Lamonters knew our campus neighbor Grace Knowlton over the years, I would be remiss if I did not share that she passed away peacefully in her sleep last Friday morning.  Grace was known for her loving nature, humor, curiosity and appreciation of all things beautiful and round.  Round you ask?  The next time you are on campus, walk down the back driveway and look to the left and you will see her many ball sculptures. To her, a sphere was a secret space closed off forever.  Lynn Sykes writes, “Grace Knowlton lived next door to Lamont for many decades and produced many art works that have stood in her yard. Some of her finest work is on display at the Storm King Art Center.” Arnold Gordon says, “I remember Grace’s art work in her yard as I turned into the road leading to what was once the main Lamont entrance. I realize this is not possible but having one of Grace’s pieces on the Lamont campus would be great.”  I like your suggestion Arnold—if anyone has any insight on this possibility, please let me know.  Nothing is impossible!

     Given our collective circumstances and challenges we all face—“A global study confirms that during the pandemic, many of us ate more junk food, exercised less, were more anxious and got less sleep”….tell me something I don’t know NYTimes!—I thought I would share a link that lifted my spirits.  It is a slide show of the 18 new astronauts chosen for the Artemis mission which aims to send humans back to the moon within the decade.  Sooo inspiring to see such a diverse cross-section of our society, not to mention that the cohort is 50% women.  I also love the mission name, Artemis—Apollo’s twin sister and the Greek goddess of the Moon.  I like to imagine some tiny, dusty, paper-filled office, somewhere in the bowels of Houston’s NASA headquarters, where an ancient scholar in rimless glasses looks up from large leatherbound tomes to declare what the next perfect mission name will be.  One small step for woman, one giant leap for womankind?  Certainly, something to look forward to!  And I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if another round of lunar rocks comes to campus for some in-depth analysis.

     The NYTimes might have added “watched more television” to the strapline above.  Calling all dog lovers, I stumbled upon a real jewel last weekend—The Pack on Amazon.  Take The Amazing Race, substitute owners and their dogs, and let the global adventures begin.  And yes, Max is watching as well, cuddled up next to me, somewhat perplexed by the endless barking and dog commands emanating from the television.

     Finally, a belated congratulations to Einat Lev, who gave birth to a baby girl, Noga, on November 14th.  Noga means “glow” and is the Hebrew name for the planet Venus.  So lovely.

     I hope you are all finding unexpected ways to lift your spirits, finding silver linings in these cloud-shrouded times.

     Happy Hanukkah,









Ancient Trees Reveal Brahmaputra Mega-Dam Risks


December 10, 2020

Article on study led by Lamont Ph.D. Mukund P. Rao.


Annual Report Card Marks Another Disastrous Year for the Arctic

Inside Climate News

December 8, 2020

Article on report co-authored by Lamont polar scientist Marco Tedesco.


Gravity Data Reveal Unexpected Antarctic Ice Variations


December 7, 2020

Article on research co-authored by Lamont geodesist Jim Davis.


Orangetown Is an International Host of Science Research for Sure!


December 6, 2020

Article features Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.


The Story of Flooding in the Language of Trees

Dhaka Tribune

December 4, 2020

Article on study led by Lamont Ph.D. Mukund P. Rao.


Here Are All 30 — Yes, 30 — Hurricanes and Tropical Storms that Hit the Atlantic in 2020

BuzzFeed News

December 3, 2020

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Suzana Camargo.




Ghosts of Glaciers Past Hint at Future Climate Challenges

December 09, 2020

Glacial remains suggest that climate patterns in the southern hemisphere have been out of step with those in the north. Understanding why could help project the effects of modern climate change.



December 07, 2020

Show your Lamont pride and support Lamont science with exclusive merch!