Lamont Weekly Report, January 24, 2020

    Notwithstanding the holiday on Monday (or a Presidential impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate), the spring semester officially began this week with the start of Columbia University classes on Tuesday. Scientific progress at Lamont continued at an uninterrupted pace.
    On Monday, Nature Climate Change published online a paper by Lorenzo Polvani, Mike Previdi, Karen Smith, and collaborators on the contribution of ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere to Arctic warming over the second half of the twentieth century. From ensembles of models of Earth’s climate over the period 1955–2005, Lorenzo and his colleagues showed that when ozone-depleting substances are held fixed, surface warming and sea-ice loss in the Arctic are only half as great as when such substances increase rapidly in a manner consistent with observations. They also demonstrated that the effect is primarily the result of radiative warming rather than ozone depletion. Their work underscores the importance of the 1987 Montreal Protocol for climate mitigation as well as stratospheric ozone protection. A Nicole deRoberts article on the paper’s findings was posted to our web site on Monday, and the story was carried by Newsweek and other media.

    Also on Monday, Nature Reviews Earth & Environment published a review paper coauthored by Dave Goldberg on carbon capture and storage (CCS) by mineralization of carbon dioxide in basaltic and ultramafic subsurface rocks. The paper, led by Sandra Snaebjörnsdóttir from the Icelandic geothermal power company Orkuveita Reykjavíkur, addressed the opportunities and challenges presented by carbon dioxide mineralization for accelerating global CCS, contributing to a long-term reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and working to meet the caps on anthropogenic warming written into the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.

    On Tuesday, Columbia University announced that the 2020 Vetlesen Prize will be awarded to Anny Cazenave, an emeritus scientist at the Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales of the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales in Toulouse, France, and Director for Earth Sciences at the International Space Science Institute in Bern, Switzerland. Dr. Cazenave is the world’s leading scientist in the application of satellite geodesy to determining the magnitude and constraining the causes of global sea-level rise. The prize will be given to her at a formal award ceremony and dinner to be held in the Low Library rotunda in April.

    The R/V Marcus Langseth spent the early part of this week at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon. Yesterday, the ship sailed to begin a set of hydrographic surveys in the central Pacific. The Langseth is scheduled to return to Newport in early May.

    Also yesterday, our web site gained a Rebecca Fowler interview of Daniel Westervelt, on the topic of the project for which Dan was selected last year as a Fellow of the Center for Climate and Life. His project involves setting up air-quality monitoring networks in three large cities in sub-Saharan Africa: Kampala, Uganda; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Nairobi, Kenya. The monitoring data, among the first of their kind in each city, are open access and provide information on air pollution and its potential impact on human health in each community.

    This afternoon, the Earth Science Colloquium spring season kicks off with a seminar by Fernanda Díaz-Basteris from the Department of Classical and Modern Languages at Cornell College, Iowa. Prof. Díaz-Basteris will be speaking on “Comics and natural disasters,” a summary of her work with graphic narratives aimed at giving a voice to marginalized communities in the aftermath of historical natural disasters in Haiti, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. I hope that you will join me in her audience.