Lamont Weekly Report, December 9, 2016

    This week has been both the last full week of fall classes and the last week before many from Lamont fly to San Francisco for the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, some highlights of which are summarized in a Stacy Morford story posted on Wednesday ( For all of you so headed west, I hope that you will be able to come to the alumni reception that Lamont jointly sponsors with the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. The reception will be held next Tuesday, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm local time, in the Ballroom Mezzanine of the San Francisco Marriott Union Square.

     The Geochemistry Division welcomed two visitors this week. Margit Simon, a Senior Researcher at the Uni Research Climate and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research in Bergen, Norway, is visiting for three months to work with Allison Franzese, Steve Goldstein, and Sid Hemming on the analysis of International Ocean Discovery Program expedition 361 cores taken off southeastern Africa to investigate the paleoclimate of the Pliocene. Jian Xiao, a visiting graduate student from Nanjing Agricultural University in China, will spend a year at Lamont working with Ben Bostick on the application of integrated scanning X-ray transmission microscopy and infrared spectromicroscopy to the study of physical and chemical stabilization of organic matter in sediments.

     On Monday this week, I gave a welcoming address to a group from CDP North America meeting in Low Library to launch their 2016 U.S. Climate Change Report and their 2016 Annual Report of Corporate Water Disclosure. CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, works with corporations, cities, states, and regions around the globe to disclose greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impact data. My welcome was on behalf of the Earth Institute, the hosting organization for the meeting.

     On Tuesday, Jesse Farmer successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis, completed under the supervision of Bärbel Hönisch on the topic of “Quaternary carbon cycling in the Atlantic Ocean: Insights from boron and radiocarbon proxies.” In addition to Bärbel, Jesse’s thesis committee included Peter deMenocal, Hugh Ducklow, Jerry McManus, and outside member Rob Sherrell from Rutgers. Jesse has accepted a postdoctoral position at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz. Congratulations, Dr. Farmer!

     Also on Tuesday, Lamont’s Center for Climate and Life announced four new Climate and Life Fellows, selected on the basis of proposals submitted to the center last month. The new fellows, and the titles of their proposed projects, are as follows:

     Laia Andreu-Hayles       Tropical forests and climate in a warming world

     William D’Andrea           Using ancient DNA and molecular biomarkers to examine interactions                                                              among humans, climate, and the environment on Easter Island

     Chia-Ying Lee (IRI)        Asymmetrical wind fields in tropical cyclone risk assessment

     Pratigya Polissar           Using molecular fossils to study how climate shapes Earth’s ecosystems

 These four join Climate and Life Fellows Park Williams and Michael Puma (Center for Climate Systems Research), selected in January.

     On Wednesday morning, the R/V Langseth arrived in Arica, Chile, after completing the PICTURES (Pisagua/Iquique Crustal Tomography to Understand the Region of the Earthquake Source) project, a collaborative effort by Oregon State University, GEOMAR, and the University of Chile to image crustal structure in the region of the 2014 Pisagua/Iquique earthquake. All 4600 km of multi-channel seismic survey lines were completed, with streamer lengths of 8 and 12.5 km for different portions of the survey; refraction shooting was conducted as planned to 70 ocean-bottom seismometers; and other geodetic data were collected. Sean Higgins writes, “There has been minimal downtime related to ship, technical, mammal, or OBS issues, which allowed us to collect all the top-priority objectives ahead of schedule.” This weekend, the ship will transit south to Valparaiso, where she will anchor until the start of the next cruise, a seismic study of another portion of the Chile subduction zone margin, early in the new year.  

      On Wednesday afternoon, Lamont’s Advisory Board met in the Kennedy Board Room of the Comer Building. The Board’s Membership, Education, and Marketing Committees met separately before the Board met in full. After hearing reports on scientific milestones and accomplishments and development progress over the past quarter, the Board was treated to a presentation by Dave Goldberg on Lamont’s programs in carbon capture and storage, entitled “Disposing of carbon dioxide below the seafloor – The largest basalt reservoir on Earth.”

     On Wednesday and Thursday, Columbia University served as host for a Global Water Summit ( organized by The Nature Conservancy. On Tuesday evening, I attended a dinner at the home of former Columbia University trustee Mark Kingdon to kick off the summit. Others from Columbia attending the dinner were Peter deMenocal, Mike Purdy, Columbia Water Center Director Manu Lall, and Executive Vice President for University Development and Alumni Relations Amelia Alverson. This morning, I attended a meeting in Mike’s office with Giulio Boccaletti, TNC’s Global Managing Director for Water, and his deputy, Lisa Shipley, along with Manu, Earth Institute Faculty chair Mike Gerrard, and Shih-Fu Chang from the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Discussions ranged broadly over opportunities for TNC and Columbia to collaborate more closely on environmental management projects in the future.

     Yesterday morning, at the monthly Council of Deans meeting, Provost John Coatsworth reminded everyone that a fifth request for proposals has been issued for the President’s Global Innovation Fund, “designed to provide support for faculty who would like to use the resources or facilities of one or more of the University’s eight Global Centers for teaching or research activities.” Proposals are sought for planning grants (no more than $20,000 over no more than one year) and project grants (up to $40,000 per year over a period of up to three years and capped at $100,000). In all, 61 proposals were funded as a result of the last four competitions. The deadline for new proposals is February 13.

     In yesterday’s issue of Nature magazine, Joerg Schaefer, Bob Finkel, Nicolás Young, Roseanne Schwartz and colleagues presented evidence that Greenland was substantially ice free during extended portions of the Pleistocene Epoch, from 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago. Joerg and his coauthors combined precise measurements of the cosmic-ray-generated nuclides 10Be and 26Al in bedrock samples at the base of the GISP2 (Greenland Ice Sheet Project Two) ice core in central Greenland with ice sheet models consistent with the measurements. The concentrations and short half-lives of the two nuclides (1.4 and 0.7 Myr, respectively) rule out many coupled climate–ice sheet models for the Pleistocene and favor models in which Greenland was largely ice free during one or more Pleistocene interglacial periods. A Kevin Krajick press release on the paper’s findings is on our web site (, and the story was covered by Scientific American ( and other media.

     Also yesterday, the December issue of Lamont’s electronic newsletter was sent out to a broad mailing list. The newsletter featured links to 10 web stories on Lamont science, two blogs from the field, a newspaper interview, a video on earthquake hazards in Bangladesh, and five news stories featuring scientific findings or commentary by Lamont scientists (

     Tomorrow will be the 40th anniversary of the publication in Science magazine of the paper by Jim Hays, the late John Imbrie, and the late Nick Shackleton that laid out the arguments in support of the hypothesis that variations in Earth’s orbit have been the “pacemaker of the ice ages.” Today’s issue of Science includes a thoughtful retrospective on the Hays et al. (1976) paper by Cambridge University’s David Hodell, who describes both the importance of the work and the questions raised then that still remain to be answered.

     In other news today, Lamont’s Facebook page contains new photos from the Rosetta team surveying the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica and the report that all six of the ALAMO floats brought along on the expedition were launched successfully and are now sending back temperature and salinity profiles from ocean sites along the ice sheet margin ( And today’s Eos Buzz Newsletter from AGU contains a summary ( of a recently published review of cryoseismology that credits the field’s beginning to the 2003 discovery by Göran Ekström and Meredith Nettles that glacial earthquakes could be recognized on records from global seismometer networks.

     The latest issue of Columbia Magazine ( includes four stories related to Lamont. There is a story on the research of Park Williams on the role of climate change in increasing the severity of U.S. forest fires and another on the work of Andy Juhl and Greg O’Mullan on water quality along the Hudson River (the latter with a bad pun for a headline). There’s a story on the fieldtrip to Quizapu volcano organized by Philipp Ruprecht and the drone survey conducted there by Einat Lev and Elise Rumpf. And Lamont receives mention in a story on the appointment of Peter deMenocal as Dean of Science.

     This afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by atmospheric chemist Christine Wiedinmyer, on the staff of the National Center for Atmospheric Research ( Christine will be speaking on “Emissions and impacts of air pollutants from biomass burning.” I hope that you can take time from your AGU preparations to hear her.