Lamont Weekly Report, December 18, 2015

    On the heels of a Paris Climate Summit at which the world’s nations agreed to address greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in a serious and collective fashion (, many from Lamont headed to San Francisco this week to the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. With more than 24,000 attendees, the meeting is once again the largest in our field this year. Much of the buzz at the meeting, however, was about the venue for the Fall Meetings in 2017 and 2018. Because of renovations to the Moscone Center that will peak in those years, AGU will be looking at other locations for those two meetings, both elsewhere in San Francisco and in other cities. If you feel strongly about the issue, AGU has set up a survey to gather input from members (

    Just before most of us left for the west coast, Chen Chen successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis last Friday. Completed under the supervision of Mark Cane, Dake Chen, and Mingfang Ting, Chen’s thesis was on the topic of “El Niño Southern Oscillation diversity in a changing climate.” Congratulations, Dr. Chen!

    Early this week, The Oceanography Society announced the good news that Arnold Gordon has been elected a 2015 Fellow of the society. Arnold will be formally recognized for his many contributions to oceanography at an upcoming Ocean Sciences Meeting. Congratulations to you, too, Arnold!

    From the field this week, Chris Zappa writes that he, Scott Brown, and other members of the Observatory for Air-Sea Interaction Studies (OASIS) have been aboard the Korean icebreaker RVIB Araon since late November. Chris writes, “Scott stood in ably on his first ocean research cruise to replace Bruce Huber, the lead mooring engineer on the project. The long trek began in Hobart, Tasmania, and continued across the stormy Southern Ocean (10-meter waves) to the Ross Sea (still abundant with sea ice to ram). We finally arrived in Terra Nova Bay (TNB) and the Korean Polar Station at Jang Bogo with scientist reinforcements for the Winter Over crew and necessary re-supply. That was just the start of our journey. The science portion of the research cruise had begun. The goal of the current project is to study the response of the TNB polynya to very strong "katabatic" winds during the winter and is a predecessor to the Polynyas, Ice Production and seasonal Evolution in the Ross Sea (PIPERS) project in May–June 2017. Coastal polynyas are sea-ice factories that leave very salty water behind when the ocean surface freezes. The polynya in TNB produces high-salinity shelf water that is the prime ingredient in the formation of the globally important Antarctic Bottom Water and associated ventilation of the world ocean. We successfully deployed our mooring earlier this week on Tuesday; [it] will remain in Terra Nova Bay for one year, when we will return to recover and re-deploy our mooring for another year to coincide with our participation in PIPERS. Now that we have completed our science cruise, we have loaded up passengers from Jang Bogo to go north and are transiting home to Christchurch, New Zealand.”

    For those of us in San Francisco, leading off the week was a meeting Sunday of the Marcus Langseth Science Oversight Committee (MLSOC), chaired by Nathan Bangs of the University of Texas at Austin. The meeting began with reports from representatives of the National Science Foundation and the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System, as well as an operator’s report by Sean Higgins. Leaders of recent Langseth cruises gave presentations on some of the scientific findings from their expedition. The core of the meeting was a broadly ranging discussion on operational planning options for the ship, including how best to implement the newly announced regional planning model and engage new partners for international, industry, and educational programs that take advantage of the ship’s special capabilities. The MLSOC chair named a subcommittee to examine these issues further.

    Also on Sunday, Stacey Vassallo and I paid a visit to Oleg Jardetzky, son of former Lamont geophysicist Wenceslas Jardetzky and Director Emeritus of Stanford’s Magnetic Resonance Laboratory. It is through Oleg’s generosity that the annual Jardetzky Lecture in geophysics was established in 1992 and continues to draw prominent geoscientists to the Observatory ( The 2016 Jardetzky Lecturer, by the way, will be Lamont and Columbia alumnus Peter Molnar, now a Professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder ( Peter will visit Lamont for the month of May.

    Lamont’s Alumni Board met on Tuesday afternoon. The meeting began with discussions led by Board chair Greg Mountain on how alumni can best provide career advice to current graduate students. The Board has again recruited a “rock star” from among our alumni to visit Lamont and offer a seminar – Christina Ravelo from the University of California, Santa Cruz, will visit the Observatory for two days and give the Earth Science Colloquium on 1 April. The Board then heard a report on development from Stacey Vassallo and an update from me on faculty appointments and promotions, recent honors earned by faculty and students, and scientific highlights over the past year.

    Our annual reception, hosted jointly by Lamont and Columbia’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, followed the Alumni Board meeting. The reception was well attended by staff, students, alumni, and friends of the Observatory and DEES, and feedback on food selection (and the open bar) was positive. For another year, all in attendance owe thanks to Stacey for her planning and management of the event.

    On Wednesday, the directors of several oceanographic institutions and I met with Roger Wakimoto, Assistant Director for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation, and Rick Murray, Director of NSF’s Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE). Institutional leads included Mark Abbott, President of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Jack Barth, Associate Dean for Research at Oregon State University; Bruce Corliss, Dean of the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island; Kate Miller, Dean of the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University; and Brian Taylor, Dean of the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology at the University of Hawaii. Our discussion ranged broadly over such topics as budgets, facilities, data management, and staffing changes at the foundation.

    Also on Wednesday, news spread on the details of an omnibus federal appropriations bill now awaiting approval by the two houses of Congress. The budget includes increases over last year’s budgets for several science agencies, including NASA (7.1%), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (5.8%), and the National Science Foundation (1.6%) (

    At the AGU Honors Ceremony on Wednesday evening, Suzanne Carbotte was inducted as a Fellow of AGU, an honor accorded to no more than 0.1% of the membership in a given year. Suzanne was cited “for her seminal contributions to understanding the global mid-ocean ridge system and the formation and evolution of the oceanic crust.” Joining her as new Fellows were Cynthia Rosenzweig from GISS, former Lamont Research Professor Geoff Abers, former Lamont Postdoctoral Research Scientist and Associate Research Scientist Jonathan Overpeck, and former Columbia University Professor Martin Visbeck. To Suzanne and all of AGU’s new Fellows, congratulations!

    Stories on papers given by Lamont scientists this week at AGU have appeared on our web pages and the media. A blog that collects AGU-related stories by Stacy Morford and Kevin Krajick ( has been added to our web page. Featured stories include one on Tuesday about a paper given by Elise Rumpf on experiments designed to understand the factors that control the geometry of lava flows ( and another that day on the newly released “Polar Explorer: Sea Level” app by Margie Turrin, Bill Ryan, Robin Bell, Dave Porter, and Andrew Goodwillie (

    A piece on the AGU Blogosphere on Wednesday quoted Stephanie Pfirman and Bob Newton on the future steps that would be needed to restore a “white Arctic” ( An online story in Science, also on Wednesday, summarized an AGU presentation by Joerg Schaefer that argued, on the basis of cosmogenic nuclides in bedrock recovered from the base of a 3-km-long ice core from central Greenland, that the region was ice free during a warm period about 120,000 years ago, implying that the Greenland ice sheet could again disappear with sufficient atmospheric warming (

    Also new to Lamont’s web pages this week is a video interview with Bärbel Hönisch on episodes of ocean warming and acidification in the geological past recorded in marine sediments ( and their implications for future climate change.

    For those flying back to New York this weekend, safe travels. For the entire Lamont community, may the holidays ahead provide a restorative break and time spent with family and friends.