Lamont Weekly Report, December 29, 2017

    This Sunday is not only the last day of the calendar year, it is the last day of work at Lamont and Columbia University for Larry Rosen. Larry has logged a total of 38 years of service at Columbia, beginning with 9 years (1970–1979) at Columbia University Medical Center’s Biochemistry Department. For the last 29 years (1988–present), Larry has served the Ocean and Climate Physics Division as Senior Systems Analyst and Programmer. Please join me in thanking Larry for his many contributions to maintaining and improving Lamont’s computational resources and in wishing Larry an enjoyable retirement!

    On Friday afternoon last week, Hannah Rabinowitz successfully defended her thesis on the topic of “The seismogenic potential of subducted sediments.” Hannah’s thesis committee included her advisor, Heather Savage, as well as Chris Scholz, Ben Holtzman, Pratigya Polissar, and Damian Saffer from Pennsylvania State University. Hannah will remain at Lamont in Heather’s group as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist through May, after which she will take a postdoctoral position with Greg Hirth at Brown University. Congratulations, Dr. Rabinowitz!

    The Biology and Paleo Environment Division last week welcomed Visiting Associate Research Scientist Xiaojian Jiang, a Lecturer in the School of Life Science at Huaiyin Normal University and at the Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Eco-Agricultural Biotechnology around Hongze Lake, Huai’an, Jiangsu Province, China. An expert in the physiology, biochemistry, and optical properties of phytoplankton, Dr. Jiang will work with Joaquim Goes and his group on several problems in biological oceanography during his 11-month visit.

    Last Friday, Environmental Research Letters published a paper by Ethan Coffel, Radley Horton, and CIESIN’s Alex de Sherbinin reporting projections for the growing global exposure of large populations to heat stress in a changing climate. The group included the effects of humidity as well as temperature through the wet-bulb temperature, the temperature that a parcel of air would have if cooled to 100% saturation by the evaporation of water. For some greenhouse gas emission scenarios, the relative frequency of extreme wet-bulb temperature events seen today is projected to increase by a factor of 100–250 by 2080 in the tropics and some mid-latitudes, regions predicted to contain half the world’s population. And the team’s models indicate that there could be 150–170 million person days per year of exposure to wet-bulb temperatures in excess of those seen in today’s fatal heat waves by 2070–2080, but limiting future greenhouse emissions could reduce maximum effects sharply. A Kevin Krajick press release on the paper’s findings ( led to coverage in VICE News ( and other media.

    At the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting earlier this month, Eos news writer Randy Showstack interviewed a selection of attendees about their views of the science policies of the Trump administration. Kerstin Lehnert was among those who offered a response, in an article posted Tuesday (

    The end of the calendar year once again calls forth consideration of New Year’s resolutions for the Observatory. Updated versions of the resolutions of recent years continue to be appropriate for 2018:

• To continue the recruitment of the most outstanding candidates for Lamont Research Professor, Research Scientist, and Lamont Postdoctoral Fellow, particularly in those areas of scientific research identified as most promising in Lamont’s Strategic Plan.

• To ensure that our younger scientists continue to be encouraged and guided in their professional growth and are provided support for their best research ideas and timely occasions for promotion.

• To continue to provide opportunities for creativity and advancement for our technical and administrative staff.

• To maintain and enhance the instrumentation, technical support, laboratory and office space, and infrastructure needed for the Observatory to pursue its research and educational missions.

• To continue the Lamont traditions of scientific excellence, supportive collegiality, and mutual respect for the collective contributions of all Observatory scientists, staff, and students

• To continue to strengthen Lamont’s efforts in development, communication, and education designed to enhance the Observatory’s profile and improve our ability to raise the resources needed for our most innovative programs and operations, particularly given the increasing challenges to reliance primarily on federal support.

    May the coming year once again be marked by steady scientific advances, new professional milestones, continued improvements to our facilities, and an intellectually vital campus dedicated afresh to improving our understanding of the workings and future of our planet.