Lamont Weekly Report, February 16, 2018

    This week began on Sunday with the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (, a day “to promote the full and equal participation of women and girls in education, training, employment and decision-making processes in the sciences,” according to a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2015. In an event at The Climate Museum closely aligned with the day, Gisela Winckler spoke on ice core science at the museum’s exhibition open house (

    The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation this week announced that Xinfeng Liang, an alumnus of Lamont and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, is a recipient of a 2018 Sloan Research Fellowship. Sloan Fellows are “early-career scholars [who] represent the most promising scientific researchers working today” and whose “achievements and potential place them among the next generation of scientific leaders in the U.S. and Canada.” Xinfeng, who completed his Ph.D. in 2012 under the supervision of Andreas Thurnherr, is now an Assistant Professor in the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida.

    The R/V Langseth is in Dunedin, New Zealand, readying for her next cruise, to conduct the South Island, New Zealand, Subduction Initiation Experiment (SISIE). That experiment involves the deployment of 50 ocean-bottom seismometers and the shooting of multi-channel seismic lines with the ship’s 12.5-km-long streamer across and adjacent to the Puysegur-Fiordland boundary south of South Island to test models for the formation of a new subduction zone ( Experiment leaders from the U.S. include Mike Gurnis and Joann Stock from Caltech and Sean Gulick and Harm Van Avendonk from the University of Texas at Austin. The ship is scheduled to begin the 30-day experiment next Monday.

    This Monday, I attended a meeting at the Office of Alumni and Development to plan a development event in San Francisco in two weeks on the topics of Columbia World Projects and Columbia’s Commitment to Climate Response. Attendees included the scheduled participants at the development event – Adam Sobel, Radley Horton, IRI’s Lisa Goddard, and Alissa Park from the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Earth and Environmental Engineering – along with Executive Vice President for Research Mike Purdy, Executive Vice President for University Development and Alumni Relations Amelia Alverson, Deputy Vice President for Strategic Communications Jerry Kisslinger, Deputy Vice President for Alumni Relations Louise Rosen, and Executive Director for Development and Campaign Leadership Suzanne Altshuler.

    Also on Monday, the White House released the President’s Budget for government fiscal year 2019, the year that will begin next October 1. As a result of the budget agreement reached by Congress and signed by the President last week, both the defense and non-defense portions of the President’s Budget are higher than they would have been without the approved increases to spending caps. Nonetheless, federal science agencies fared unevenly in the budget request. The requested amount for the National Science Foundation, for instance, is level with the appropriated amount for fiscal year 2017 and NASA is given a 1.2% increase over the 2017 appropriated level, but Earth Science programs at the latter agency would be decreased by 7%. Moreover, the budget request for NOAA is 19% below the fiscal year 2017 level, and that for the U.S. Geological Survey is 25% below the appropriated amount in 2017. That said, the President’s Budget is only an opening salvo in a long process that moves now to Congress and will occupy most of the next 12 months, if not longer. As Joel Widder and Meg Thompson of Federal Science Partners have written, “With the new spending caps in place for fiscal year 2019 and this being an election year, Congress can be expected to oppose many of [the] reductions” proposed by the White House.

    Kyle Frischkorn, Sheean Haley, and Sonya Dyhrman recently published a paper in the Journal of the International Society for Microbial Ecology reporting measurements of interactions between the nitrogen-fixing phytoplankton Trichodesmium and the bacteria and other microbes that populate its microbiome. The group showed that there are coordinated patterns of gene expression between the host and the microbiome, many with a diurnal periodicity. The patterns indicated reliance of biome species on Trichodesmium functions such as nitrogen and carbon fixation, as well as chemical reactions by biome organisms of benefit to the host, in all a complex community of microbes that work together to contribute to marine geochemical cycles. A blog on the shipboard and lab experiences that led to the paper’s findings was posted by Kyle on Monday (

    On Wednesday, Kevin Krajick posted his annual summary of fieldwork planned by Lamont scientists ( for the remainder of this calendar year and beyond. A total of 46 field projects are described in detail, and another 17 farther in the future are mentioned as well. Lamont scientists are doing their best to live up to our mission statement that we work “on every continent and in every ocean.”

    From Wednesday through Friday next week, Lamont will host a Workshop on Antarctic Surface Hydrology and Future Ice-shelf Stability. The goal of the workshop is to “bring together scientists with expertise in ice-sheet dynamics, glacial hydrology, climatology and other disciplines in order to move the community toward answering several fundamental questions raised by observations of Antarctic surface hydrological processes,” including questions on surface meltwater generation, transport, and storage and the influence of surface meltwater on ice-shelf stability. Jonny Kingslake, Robin Bell, Indrani Das, and Marco Tedesco are among the members of the workshop organizing committee.

    In the meantime, Lamont and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences this afternoon will co-host the Arthur D. Storke Lecture ( This year’s Storke Lecturer is Sally Benson, Professor of Energy Resources Engineering in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University, co-director of the university’s Precourt Institute for Energy, and director of their Global Climate and Energy Project ( Sally will be speaking about “Recent advances in CO2 sequestration science.” I hope that you will sequester yourself in Monell this afternoon and join me for both the lecture and the reception that will follow.