Lamont Weekly Report, February 5, 2016

    Once again we experienced a week bookended by a snowstorm, this one at the end rather than the beginning. Once again, our Buildings and Grounds crew were in early today to clear roads, paths, and parking lots even as the snow continued to fall.

    Mike Kaplan received the good news this week that he has been awarded a Fulbright Visiting Senior Scholar grant to spend four months in Chile next year. Mike will be hosted by the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and the Universidad de Chile in Santiago as well as the Universidad de Magallanes in Punta Arenas, at all of which he will give lectures and continue his research on glacial, climate, and landscape changes in the geological and historical records. Congratulations, Mike! 

    The Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics Division this month welcomed the visit of Lamont and Columbia University alumnus Ingi Bjarnason, now with the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland. During his visit Ingi will be working with Bill Menke on a search for time-dependent changes in seismic velocity recorded by the seismic network along the South Iceland Seismic Zone.

    On Tuesday, Art-Lerner Lam and I hosted the visit to Lamont of Joel Widder and Meg Thompson of Federal Science Partners (, a government relations firm in Washington, D.C., that helps Columbia University work with federal agencies and Congress on national science issues. Joel and Meg participated in a series of meetings during their visit, including one with Dave Goldberg and Sean Higgins on the Langseth; one with Robin Bell, Peter deMenocal, Suzana Camargo, and Donna Shillington on Lamont’s strategic initiatives; one with Robin, Nick Frearson, Marco Tedesco, and Kirsty Tinto on polar programs; and another with Lamont’s Associate Directors Rosanne D’Arrigo, Roger Buck, Dave Goldberg, and Steve Goldstein on federal science support. Separate meetings were held with Bob Chen and Marc Levy from CIESIN and with Lisa Goddard from IRI.

    Also on Tuesday, Karen Buck arranged for a visit to the Lamont Campus of Ed Chan-Lizardo, Columbia’s Director of Development, Asia, and Verónica Martini, Senior Executive Director for Global Initiatives. Ed and Verónica met with Art, Robin, Peter, Suzana, Donna, and Karen to discuss Lamont’s strategic initiatives, how the Observatory can best fit into Columbia’s comprehensive fundraising campaign, and how Lamont scientists planning travel to east Asia and the Americas can volunteer to participate in Columbia programs and meet donor prospects in those areas.

    In a paper released online by the Journal of Climate, Lorenzo Polvani, Suzana Camargo, and their colleague Rolando Garcia from the National Center for Atmospheric Research explored the impact of the 1987 Montreal Protocol on the severity of tropical storms over the next 50 years. With the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model, the group compared standard future scenarios with scenarios in which ozone-depleting compounds were not regulated by global agreement, and they found that changes in tropical cyclones by 2065 are three times larger under the latter scenario – largely because of a warmer sea surface – than under the standard model. They concluded that the Montreal Protocol has provided an unanticipated benefit in mitigating the strength of tropical storms. A Stacy Morford story on the paper was posted on the Lamont web site on Monday (

    Lamont’s Center for Climate and Life was featured in a Jeff Tollefson story in yesterday’s Nature as an example of a new model for the financial support of scientific research (; an editorial on that topic appeared in the same issue ( The Chronicle of Philanthropy countered with a story of its own ( Moreover, center director Peter deMenocal was interviewed for a 60 Minutes episode Sunday on the impact of climate change on the Petermann Glacier in Greenland (

    On Wednesday Nature posted online a paper by Bob Anderson and colleagues from Switzerland, Spain, and Canada on trace metal records from Southern Ocean sediments that permit a reconstruction of oxygenation and, by implication, carbon dioxide storage in the deep ocean through the last glacial cycle. The group found that atmospheric carbon dioxide covaried with deep Southern Ocean oxygenation through most of the past 80,000 years, implying that when ice-age atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were low the deep ocean stored large quantities of carbon by the buildup of decaying organic matter that sank from shallower levels. A Stacy Morford story on the paper was posted on the Lamont web site yesterday (

    This week marked the online posting of the annual compendium, compiled by Kevin Krajick, of field projects now being or soon to be conducted by Lamont scientists ( The narrative description of individual projects is accompanied by an interactive global map ( The promise of Lamont’s mission statement that our scientists work “on every continent and in every ocean” is well illustrated by examples from this calendar year.

    There were several news stories late last week of widespread reports of shaking from southern New Jersey to Long Island, but the events were sonic booms rather than local earthquakes, as confirmed by Lamont’s network of seismometers and pressure and infrasound sensors. A Kevin Krajick story on the episode, featuring commentary by Won-Young Kim and John Armbruster, was posted yesterday on the Lamont web site (

    Sid Hemming continued her blog from the R/V JOIDES Resolution this week. The drill ship sailed from Port Louis, Mauritius, yesterday on its two-month expedition to obtain paleoclimate records from ocean sediment cores at six sites around southern Africa (

    Ben Holtzman’s SeismoDome planetarium show, which uses color and sound to represent seismicity, seismic wave propagation, and the seismic background, was the subject of two recent media stories. A Creators Project article Tuesday on Vice featured the show and included video clips ( SciArt in America had a similar review of the show last month (

    This afternoon’s Colloquium was to have been by geologist Carmala Garzione, Chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Rochester ( Delta Airlines cancelled Carmala’s flight yesterday, however, no doubt in anticipation of today’s snowfall. Her seminar will be rescheduled for a later date.