Lamont Weekly Report, January 26, 2018

    This week began not just with a shutdown of the federal government, thankfully short lived, but with punctuated commentary from the solid Earth. Volcanic eruptions were in the news in the Philippines and Japan (, and a magnitude 7.9 earthquake occurred Tuesday morning in the Gulf of Alaska, but the quake was a shallow strike-slip event within the Pacific plate and generated only a small tsunami (

    Earlier this month, Adam Sobel and Suzana Camargo coauthored a paper in Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems on a new statistical-dynamical model for estimating the long-term global hazard from the largest tropical cyclones. The paper, led by IRI’s Chia-Ying Lee and coauthored by Michael Tippett from the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, describes the model’s dependence on environmental conditions and its ability to follow storms from genesis through intensification and landfall. On the basis of 400 model realizations over a three-decade period, the group showed that storm-track density distribution and landfall-intensity return period for past storms can be captured with a minimum of model adjustments. The model thus provides a tool for assessing the tropical cyclone hazard in a changing climate. A Francesco Fiondella story on the paper’s findings has been added to the Lamont web site (

    Eclipsed by the news of unsuccessful efforts to avoid a government shutdown late last week was the release by the National Science Foundation of Science & Engineering Indicators 2018 (, intended to provide “information on the state of the S&E enterprise in the United States and globally through high-quality quantitative data from domestic and international sources.” According to Federal Science Partners, Columbia University’s Washington lobbying firm, the report demonstrates that “the United States is the global leader in science and technology (S&T). [In particular,] the U.S. invests the most in research and development, attracts the most venture capital, awards the most advanced degrees, provides the most business, financial and information services, and is the largest producer in high-technology manufacturing sectors. However, the U.S. global share of S&T activities is declining as other nations – especially China – continue to rise.”

    On Monday, Art Lerner-Lam and I met with the Internal Review Committee conducting a portion of the ongoing academic review of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. The committee, chaired by Emlyn Hughes from the Department of Physics and including Donald Green from the Department of Political Science and Laura Kaufman from the Department of Chemistry, met later that day with adjunct faculty, graduate student advisors, Lamont Research Faculty, postdoctoral scientists, Lamont research staff, Lamont Associate Directors, DEES graduate students, Lamont technical staff, and Lamont administrative staff. The Internal Review Committee met with DEES faculty members in Schermerhorn on Tuesday and Thursday. On Thursday and Friday of next week, DEES and Lamont personnel will be visited by a counterpart External Review Committee consisting of David Bercovici from Yale University, Richard Carlson from the Carnegie Institution for Science, and Katherine Freeman from The Pennsylvania State University.

    In the news this week was a Haaretz story Sunday about the work on Steve Goldstein, Yael Kiro, and Yochanan Kushnir on the past and future hydroclimate of the eastern Mediterranean ( The story includes a video shot and directed by Kevin Krajick.

    This afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium speaker will be geologist Katharine Huntington, an Associate Professor in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington ( Kate will be speaking on a range of topics “From plateaus and paleoclimate to fluids on faults: Carbonate clumped isotope thermometry in continental tectonics.” Most likely your afternoon productivity will have plateaued, the climate in your office will be getting stale, and TGIF promises enticing fluids, whatever your faults, so I hope that you will join her audience.