Lamont Weekly Report, July 27, 2018

    The Director’s Weekly Reports, although typically circulated before midday every Friday, are often written the day before, particularly in weeks with multiple Friday morning meetings. On such a schedule, important milestones late in the week are often not mentioned until a week later. This week provides several examples of such a pattern.

    Last Thursday, Columbia President Lee Bollinger announced that Maya Tolstoy will be the Interim Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences as of 1 September, when David Madigan steps down from that position. Maya writes that she’s already begun working from her new office in Low Library, a building that also houses Mike Purdy and Peter de Menocal. Perhaps Columbia has come up with a solution to the extremely limited space for DEES faculty in Schermerhorn.

    Steven Boswell successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis last Friday. His thesis, on “Enhanced surface melting of the Fennoscandian Ice Sheet during stadials,” was conducted under the supervision of Doug Martinson. In addition to Doug, Steve’s committee included Tim Creyts, Sid Hemming, Jerry McManus, and Lamont alumnus Jim Wright from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Rutgers University. Congratulations, Dr. Boswell!

    Also last Friday, a Marie Aronsohn story on our web site announced a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to Lamont’s Geoinformatics Research Group to establish an international cross-disciplinary system for the registration and identification of physical samples used in scientific research ( The initiative, led by Kerstin Lehnert, builds on the group’s earlier successful development and implementation of the International Geo Sample Number (IGSN), a sample identification system now in widespread use across the globe.

    The Marine Geology and Geophysics Division this week welcomed Visiting Scholar Gideon Tibor from the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute and the Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences at the University of Haifa. Gideon applies high-resolution marine geophysical and remote sensing observations to the study of the marine environment and natural resources. A particular focus of his work has been the Holocene evolution of the Levant margin, the Sea of Galilee, and the northern Gulf of Aqaba. At Lamont until mid-August, Gideon is hosted by Mike Steckler.

    On Tuesday, the Earth Institute posted a Sarah Fecht interview of Alex Halliday on their State of the Planet blog site ( The article touches on several of the considerations that lured Alex to his current position as well as some of his ideas for the institute and its strategic priorities looking forward.

    Science Advances this week includes a paper by Pengfei Zhang, Yutian Wu, former Lamont postdoctoral scientists Isla Simpson and Karen Smith, and others that reports new evidence for links between late-autumn sea ice loss in the Barents and Kara seas and cold winter temperatures in Siberia. Key to their argument is an atmospheric general circulation model with a well-resolved stratosphere, because it is a pathway through the stratosphere rather than a direct connection through the troposphere that links the two phenomena. Their work implies that fully representing troposphere-stratosphere coupling in atmospheric circulation models will be critical to improving seasonal climate prediction, particularly for mid-latitude cold events. A news story in Eos yesterday reported the paper’s findings (

    On Wednesday, Science posted online a paper by a group of Italian scientists reporting evidence from satellite radar sounding for a body of water located about 1.5 km beneath the surface of a portion of the south polar cap of Mars. The story was widely reported in the media and appeared on the front page, above the fold, of yesterday morning’s print edition of The New York Times ( The field of glacial hydrology apparently has a modern extraterrestrial application.

    Margie Turrin continued her blog from western Greenland as part of the Snow on Ice Project, with a story Wednesday ( on her group’s arrival at a lake where sampling of water, lake sediments, and local plants will permit later reconstruction of the history of temperature and precipitation over the last several thousand years during retreat of the ice sheet across the region.

    Radley Horton was quoted in a Scientific American story Monday that reported findings from a study indicating a correlation over the past half century between monthly average temperature and suicide rate in the U.S. and Mexico ( A short version of the Tryggvi Adalbjornsson story on the iceberg grounded off a Greenland coastal village, with quotes from Joerg Schaefer, appeared in Tuesday’s Science Times. Park Williams was quoted in a ThinkProgress story Wednesday on the impact of climate change on the frequency and severity of wildfires ( And Susan Hellauer’s “Earth Matters” column for Nyack News and Views on Wednesday quoted Klaus Jacob, in print and on video, on the importance of factoring projected sea-level rise into planning for measures to protect New York Harbor and Hudson River communities against storm-surge flooding during future Sandy-like storms (

    On Thursday afternoon next week, Lamont’s Summer Interns will make presentations on their individual research projects. Each intern will give a one-slide introduction to his or her project in an oral session in Monell Auditorium, and a poster session will follow in the Comer Atrium.  I hope that many of you will be able to join me in their audience.

    In the meantime, it looks to be another good weekend to contemplate warming ice, whether it be an ice sheet in Fennoscandia, sea ice in the Barents Sea, an iceberg next to a Greenland village, or a Martian polar cap. Skoal!