Lamont Weekly Report, February 13, 2021

     Hello Friends, Here is your weekly newsletter—a penny short and a day late.  Giving two 90-minute lectures in my class Cenozoic Paleoceanography was literally the straw that broke the camel’s back for me this week.  But, better late than never!

     The silver lining was the leisurely reading of the links and blog posts below this morning, with my cup of home-brewed Bunbury’s coffee.  What I appreciate about this long-standing tradition of compiling Lamont’s weekly science news is how simple it makes it for us to keep up on the relevant geoscience and climate stories of the world each week.  Rarely does a significant Earth science report circulate on the wires without someone at Lamont being asked to comment.  Plus, it is often us making the news!  Thus, we have the twin benefits of a weekly geoscience briefing document, combined with insight into what our colleagues down the hall are doing.  Not to mention the ready-made talking points that will transform thee into a scintillating conversationalist at your weekend social congregations.

     To wit.  Did you know there are three types of sounds in the ocean?  Biophony, geophony, and anthrophony – representing sounds made by living creatures, Earth processes, and humankind, respectively.  How do these soundscapes interact and impact life in the ocean?  What do you hear when you go underwater?  Will the relentless pile-driving of thousands of new off-shore wind farms impact fisheries and marine life?  Can modifications to ships significantly reduce their contributions to the marine soundscape?  Can we monitor climate change through underwater sound?  Luckily the world has scientists at Lamont and beyond to grapple with such earthshaking and resounding queries.

     I was also struck by Dave Goldberg’s comments, about the benefits of carbon air capture of CO2 versus sequestering of carbon via reforestation, in a National Geographic article about United Airlines’s announcement that it aims to be carbon-neutral by 2050.  This is a topic close to Dave’s heart and he has spent many hours and days thinking about how we might “offset” the extreme amount of air travel undertaken by scientists at Lamont (pandemic aside obviously).  I have often purchased an “offset” with my airline ticket, trying to ignore the nettlesome fact that the carbon sequestered would happen over the time scale of a tree’s life – not so practical when the situation at the poles is dire now.  Dave also points out the fruitlessness of this approach if wildfires, also increasingly common due to warming, sweep through a forested region.  So many people, connecting so many interesting dots.

     Finally, Einat Lev followed up her on her perspicacious advice of last year to avoid falling into volcanoes with an in-depth Q+A about volcanoes and their predictability.  It is a quite interesting one-page primer on the state of volcano research in the world today.  It is inspiring to think that the work being done by Einat and the other volcanologists at Lamont will someday lead to better predictions of these magmatic hazards and more lives, and livelihoods, will be saved.

     In campus news, I thank everyone who attended yesterday’s Town Hall on the delivery of the DEI Task Force report. My deepest thanks go to the entire DEI Task Force membership for taking on an enormous challenge, in the middle of a pandemic, and crafting a document remarkably optimistic and forward-thinking in scope.   To me, this was no small feat.  The report articulates a dream of Lamont that is inclusive, free of bias, and welcoming.  I hope everyone on campus will read the Task Force report and reflect on how it intersects with and resonates with their own lived academic experience.  Now is the time for us all to step up and create a Lamont that is inclusive, nurturing, and respectful to all, all while carrying out world-leading, cutting-edge research on our beautiful planet. 

     Thursday was International Day of Women and Girls in Science and our comms team has worked with our scientists to create some terrific content designed to inspire girls interested in STEM careers.  Check out the Lamont’s Women in Science Flipbook created by Sunghee Kim and Kuheli Dutt and which is located on our Women in Science page.  In particular, the highlight for me was this beautiful Video on Women in Science made by the Lamont/EI media team and led by Marie DeNoia Arohnson.  It definitely brought a tear to my eye and I appreciated this message sent to me by a senior male colleague downtown that said, “A wonderful gift to my daughters and granddaughter.”  Mission accomplished.

     I’d like to draw everyone’s attention to a recent COVID-19 email to students Columbia-wide.  While addressed to students, included are helpful links to CU mental health resources as well as excellent advice on coping with the ongoing stresses of the pandemic.  Take a moment for yourself and read. 

     Finally, congratulations to Lorelei Curtin who on Thursday successfully defended her thesis, “Climate and Human History of the North Atlantic: Perspectives from Lipid Biomarkers in Lake Sediments”.  She has started a postdoc working with Bryan Shuman at the University of Wyoming using lipid biomarkers in lake sediments to understand hydrological changes in the Rocky Mountains over the Holocene.  Nicely done Lorelei!  And thank you for all you did on behalf of advancing DEIA discussions while you were at Lamont.

     Wishing you all a peaceful and relaxing weekend.









Himalayan Glacier Disaster Highlights Climate Change Risks


February 9, 2021

Article quotes Lamont geochemist Joerg Schaefer.


Watch—and Hear—the Impact Human Noises Have on Marine Life


February 9, 2021

Video includes earthquake audio provided by Lamont.


Scientists Have Warned of Himalayan Glacier Landslides


February 8, 2021

Article cites research by Lamont Ph.D. student Joshua Maurer, geochemist Joerg Schaefer, and colleagues.


Can Carbon Capture Make Flying More Sustainable?

National Geographic

February 5, 2021

Article quotes Lamont scientist David Goldberg.


Addressing Racism through Ownership

Nature Geoscience

February 4, 2021

Article by Lamont diversity officer Kuheli Dutt.




Celebrating the 2021 International Day of Women and Girls in Science

February 11, 2021

In honor of the day, we’re highlighting a few women who play an essential role in the Earth Institute’s work to understand how the planet works, how humans are changing it, and how to build a sustainable future.


You Asked: Why Is it So Hard to Predict Volcanic Eruptions?

February 09, 2021

Volcanologist Einat Lev tackles reader questions and explains how more monitoring of volcanoes could save lives.