Lamont Weekly Report, February 26, 2021

     Hello Friends,  Spring is in the air—and not a moment too soon.  I think the added challenge of cold, darkness, and snow is pushing many of us to a breaking point from our already weirdly normalized pandemic (dis)equilibrium.  We are stressed, we are depressed, we are coping in ways we might not even appreciate, just out of the sheer necessity of getting through another day with parents, children, health challenges, work demands, and more.

     Things I am grateful for this week: hearing and seeing that daffodils are peaking out of the snow around campus; watching a stunningly beautiful “Aphrodite” amaryllis bloom on my windowsill; finding out that one more loved one will be vaccinated shortly (keep trying to book appointments!  At Javits yesterday they were booking same day and next day appointments); seeing caring colleagues at every level of the university working tirelessly to solve the daycare crisis, improve student life and safety, and brainstorm ways to mitigate the impact of lost productivity on the careers of our scholars.

     With respect to the Bright Horizons daycare center at Lamont—we continue to maintain the building and its certifications though we have no expectation that it will reopen this semester.  I’m told that with the current state-mandated occupancy restrictions, reopening is still financially unfeasible for Bright Horizons (who eventually had to lay off its staff).  Of course, this is a challenge that extends far beyond the campus of Lamont and it is important to recognize that things will return to normal eventually.  We remain committed to providing high quality daycare to our employees and, as more and more people are vaccinated, we will revisit this challenge on a monthly basis.  In the meantime, if you would enroll your child in Lamont daycare, please let Sheean Haley or Jennifer Lamp know.  And Sheean and Jen, thank you for being the point of contact in the community.

     This week brings a hodge-podge of announcements.  Firstly, congratulations to Anna Barth who successfully defended her thesis on “Volatiles and ascent rate of explosive basaltic eruptions”. I have no doubt that her defense was followed by some explosive eruptions of an intoxicating kind.  Anna plans to begin a postdoc with Ben Holtzman (here at Lamont) and Leif Karlstrom at University of Oregon, followed by a westward migration to UC-Berkeley for a Miller Fellowship in the fall.

     Graduate student Casey Ivanovich received the 1st prize for the student oral presentation in the American Meteorological Society’s Ninth Symposium on the Madden-Julian Oscillation and Sub-Seasonal Monsoon Variability. Her presentation title was "Influence of the Madden-Julian Oscillation on Extreme Wet-Bulb Temperature: Improving Heat Stress Predictability.” Congratulations Casey!  I also got an email from Postdoctoral Research Scientist Spencer Hill who says “Apologies for shameless self-promotion, but I had a lot of fun contributing to last week’s EI Live K-12 session, using household items to create real-world models of GFD” (which I assume means geophysical fluid dynamics).  Spencer’s contributions are part of his larger DIYnamics project which is focused on using rotating tanks to expand interest in the geosciences, particularly among URM students.  His email reminded me of my all-time favorite tank experiment, laminar flow and the reversing fluid.  Here is a link—though quite a few such videos exist—great soundtrack, hilarious comments.  And everyone, please self-promote away!  I really appreciate hearing all this stuff and never cease to be amazed. 

     I’d like to give another shout-out to the team led by Tara Spinelli who is building out a new website for LDEO.  We hope we will be transitioning to the new website by this summer.  Tara asks if I can pass along a request to help us build our collection of Lamont field, research, and campus photos.  Submit your favorites from around the world or from our campus and labs—great photography will help us present our science, scientists, campus, and staff in the most engaging ways. Learn more and submit your photos via this simple form.

     Has anyone ever wondered what happened to Lamont’s famous research vessel R/V Vema?

     Lamont’s former research vessel found new life as the windjammer S/V Mandalay which can be seen at this link.  After collecting data on a track of over 1,225,000 nautical miles in the service of science, she was bought by a private company in 1982 and put into service as a holiday cruiser in the Caribbean. Pina coladas on the poop deck? Margaritas by the mizzen-mast? However, as one more victim of the pandemic, the ship may be tying up for good. I can’t say I’m not thinking about the Woods Hole Sea Education program and what we could do with the Vema!

     The Directorate continues to work on our response to the DEI Task Force report, and the Lamont pod of Unlearning Racism in Geoscience (URGE) asked me to report that they have finished up their third session on Racism and History. They read three papers, watched an interview, and produced a deliverable on the demographic data of the employees and invited speakers on the Lamont campus.

     Finally, I’ll wrap up by encouraging you to read Adam Sobel’s excellent and no-phony-baloney opinion piece on CNN about the recent Texas weather and energy crisis.  And then close with thanks for…SPRING BREAK!!!!!  We can’t decamp to raucous (or deserted) beaches in warm climes but we can take a bit of a breather, do some final winter nesting, hygge-ing, and hibernating to recharge our batteries, and look forward, ever forward, to renewing outdoor time with friends. 

     Have a peaceful weekend, Mo








Climate Change Helped Some Dinosaurs Migrate to Greenland

Science News

February 24, 2021

Article on study by Lamont paleomagnetist Dennis Kent and colleague.


Seabed 2030 Enters New Agreement with the Global Multi-Resolution Topography Synthesis Project

The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project

February 23, 2021

Article features partnership with Lamont's Global Multi-Resolution Topography Synthesis Project led by marine geophysicist Suzanne Carbotte.


Deadly Floods in India Point to a Looming Climate Emergency in the Himalayas

Washington Post

February 19, 2021

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


A Hitchhiker's Guide to an Ancient Geomagnetic Disruption

The New York Times

February 18, 2021

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Jason Smerdon.


Dust on the Wind


February 17, 2021

Article on study by Lamont graduate student Jordan Abell, climate scientist Gisela Winckler, geochemist Robert Anderson, and colleague.


The Phony Blame Game on Texas Weather


February 17, 2021

Opinion piece by Lamont climate scientist Adam Sobel.


Did Climate Change Make Dinosaurs Move Hemispheres?


February 17, 2021

Feature on study by Lamont paleomagnetist Dennis Kent and colleague.


Dinosaurs Take a Hike


February 16, 2021

Article on study by Lamont paleomagnetist Dennis Kent and colleague.




Experts Weigh In on the Deep Freeze and Power Outages in Texas

February 18, 2021

Is a failure of wind power really behind the blackouts? How can we make sure this doesn’t happen again? Earth Institute scholars have answers to these questions and more.