Lamont Weekly Report, January 6, 2017

     For a second week in a row we were treated to two university holidays. As if to compensate, the weather finally turned seasonally appropriate to the first week of the New Year.

     I am pleased to report three recent promotions on our scientific staff, all effective as of this week. Bob Newton has been promoted to Senior Research Scientist. Beizhan Yan has been promoted to Lamont Associate Professor, Senior Staff. And Solange Duhamel has been promoted to Lamont Associate Professor, Junior Staff. To Bob, Beizhan, and Solange, congratulations on your new rank!

     New Year’s Day saw the web posting of a Stacy Morford article on Lamont’s Real-Time Earth initiative (, led by Ryan Abernathey, Tim Crone, and Chris Zappa. The initiative blends remote observations conducted from aircraft, drones, marine buoys and gliders, and sea-floor instruments together with new approaches for exploiting large and cross-disciplinary data sets. The story highlights the research of Ryan, Tim, and Chris under this initiative, as well as the polar airborne and buoy observations of Robin Bell and her group; the drone investigations of volcanic areas by Einat Lev and Elise Rumpf and of ancient high-sea-level stands by Alessio Rovere; the exploitation of cabled observatory records to investigate the 2015 eruption of Axial Seamount by Maya Tolstoy and her colleagues; and the data management efforts led by Kerstin Lehnert and Suzanne Carbotte through the International Earth Data Alliance.

     Late last week, Geophysical Research Letters posted online an early version of a paper by Winnie Chu, Tim Creyts, Robin Bell, and colleagues at Stanford University, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the University of Exeter on radar observations of subglacial water and the seasonal variation in its distribution beneath the Greenland ice sheet. Winnie and her coauthors found that whereas subglacial water is commonly found in subglacial troughs during the summer melting season, subglacial water during the winter is seen along subglacial ridges, areas of presumably lower near-surface permeability than the troughs. Moreover, the group found that differences in basal topography, subglacial water storage at the beginning of the melting season, and rates of surface meltwater input can yield different responses to melting of individual glaciers within the Greenland ice sheet. A Stacy Morford story on the paper’s findings is on our web site (

     Those two postings by Stacy, unfortunately, are her last for the Observatory. She stepped down from her post as Lamont’s Senior Communications Officer and as of this week is now the Associate Director of Communications at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. Please join me in wishing her well in her new position!

     Until we can recruit Stacy’s replacement, the communications team at the Earth Institute has stepped up to help meet our needs. For requests for press releases or media outreach tied to the publication of a newsworthy paper, please continue to contact Kevin Krajick. For other science writing or communications needs, please contact David Funkhouser or Jennifer Genrich, and please work through or copy Farhana Mather on your request. Web postings and social media messaging will continue as well.

     The R/V Langseth remains in Valparaiso, Chile, this week. This coming Sunday and Monday, the ship will be hosting several events jointly sponsored by the Columbia Global Center in Santiago. On Sunday, there will be a one-day workshop on earthquake and tsunami hazards along the Chile subduction zone, and participants will include Art Lerner-Lam, Sean Higgins, Felix Waldhauser, Spahr Webb, Nathan Bangs from the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, Anne Tréhu from Oregon State University, and a number of Chilean scientists and earthquake resilience planning experts from local universities and government agencies. Anne served as Chief Scientist for the Langseth’s most recently completed cruise, and Nathan will be the Chief Scientist for a cruise to begin next Tuesday; the objective of both cruises has been to collect seismic images of portions of the subduction boundary along the rupture zones of recent large earthquakes. On Monday, the ship will host two visiting groups. The first will consist of Chilean scientists and government officials who will tour the ship and meet with scientists involved with the two shipboard projects. The second group, which will also tour the ship and meet with scientists, will include Chile’s President, Minister of Science, and other officials; the U.S. Ambassador to Chile; and Scripps Institution Director Margaret Leinen, in her capacity as Science Envoy for the U.S. State Department.

     Richard Seager was interviewed for a story Sunday on preliminary reports by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that 2016 was the hottest year on record ( The article, published (appropriately) in The Mercury News (San Jose), mentions that the two agencies will issue their formal reports on January 18, two days before the inauguration of President Trump.

     Suzana Camargo was quoted in a Henry Fountain story in yesterday’s print edition of The New York Times ( on a report that during times of frequent Atlantic hurricanes, climate conditions tend to weaken storms that approach the U.S. east coast, whereas during times of less frequent tropical storms, major hurricanes approaching the U.S. are likely to intensify before making landfall. Suzana’s principal comment was that more research is needed to understand these apparent patterns.

     A paper by Kira Olsen and Meredith Nettles, delivered at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting last month, was the topic of a news article in Eos posted yesterday ( Kira and Meredith reported on the increase in glacial earthquakes in Greenland over the period 1993-2013 and the implied increase in ice loss by large calving events at the glaciers’ leading edges. In particular, glacial earthquakes in the region have increased from about 10 per year in the mid-1990s to about 40 per year more recently, and nearly half of the glacial earthquakes in their catalog occurred during the last two years of the study period.

     After two three-day workweeks in a row, it is tempting to regard such a schedule as routine. But the normal pattern will resume soon enough.