Lamont Weekly Report, July 30, 2021

     Hello Friends,  Our months of uncertainty continue.  Our gains in community safety are slowly being undermined by the delta variant.  Asymptomatic positive testing numbers are creeping up at CU after many months of declining numbers.  Monday will bring the deadline for vaccine compliance—the Lamont campus currently leads relative to the other four CU campuses, though we are still only at about 80% compliance.  People who have not yet uploaded proof that they are vaccinated, or in the process, will soon be contacted.  The university has made it clear that vaccination is a condition of employment, whether you are working on campus or remotely.  Employees who do not have an exemption and are not vaccinated will be subject to disciplinary actions up to termination and/or salary suspension starting in early September.  It is a university-wide commitment to our collective safety we all must honor.  Please direct any questions or concerns to HR, our COVID Ambassadors Nicole deRoberts or Kaleigh Matthews, or Art Lerner-Lam.

      More uplifting news (as in better news) is that it is increasingly looking like our Bright Horizons Daycare will reopen in early September.  Working together with BH and the provost’s office, we anticipate that the daycare fee schedule will now be on a tiered structure based on family income.  We really hope this allows everyone on our campus access to high quality daycare at their place of employment.  The greater the enrollment, from both Lamonters and the community, the more likely it will be that we can preserve the tiered fee structure model designed to help grad students, postdocs, etc.

      As we look ahead to fall, I hope everyone is also thinking about potential colloquium speakers.  To that end, please join me in thanking the outgoing members and welcoming the new members of the Colloquium Committee.  This year’s committee includes Nicolás Young as faculty coordinator, and student members Tanner Acquisto, Jasper Baur, Claire Jasper, Joohee Kim, Celeste Pallone, and Madankui Tao. We extend our gratitude to outgoing members Kevin Uno, Coordinator, and graduate students Shannon Bohman, Alexandra Balter, Clara Chang, and Sarah Giles for their time and considerable efforts to bring outstanding virtual talks during a challenging year. 

      August is generally a pretty quiet time of year in academia, however, I can report that our very own Kailani Acosta is the newly elected Student Member-at-Large of the Governing Board of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF).  Congratulations Kailani!  Lamont Associate Research Professor Indrani Das also received good news, from AGU: her article, Multi-decadal basal melt rates and structure of the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica using airborne ice penetrating radar, was in the Journal of Geophysical Research’s top 10% most downloaded papers in 2020!  The study estimates basal melt rates underneath the Ross Ice Shelf using images from two airborne radar datasets from the ROSETTA project, combined with satellite velocity and ice sheet modeling-based estimates of ice shelf strain rates. Indrani’s team identified five hotspots at the ice shelf front and used an ocean circulation model to conclude that the ocean was responsible for the inferred higher basal melt underneath the ice shelf in at least three of the hotspots. The most mysterious continent continues to reveal its secrets.

      In other research news, we see forward progress on the ultra-hip and scientific “Plus Pool”, an inspiring collaboration between art, engineering, and science in New York City.  We also have DEES Professor Adam Sobel’s great editorial take on the “Merchants of Doubt”, the oil and gas industry.  LRP Radley Horton was all over the “airwaves” this week discussing wet bulb temperatures and the rising risks of extreme heat.  Indeed, I learned that an app now exists, Carrot, that determines wet bulb temperature and will warn you “when it’s so hot that going outside could cause you to simply drop dead.”  Yikes—and not good.  Many more interesting articles lurk below, explaining the science behind heat domes, Germany’s dramatic floods, drought, wildfires and more.  I see this media list below, and read these articles, and I am once again inspired that the Columbia Climate School is centering “Disaster Resilience” as one of its four major programmatic priorities.  How do we help communities anticipate, prevent and recover from ever increasing climate disasters worldwide?  Our scientists will be central to this ambitious transdisciplinary initiative in the coming months to years.

      I’ll end with a shout-out to Sheean Haley and the pollinator garden team.  It truly is marvelous and well worth a walk over to the side of the New Core Repository building.  The gardens are flourishing and are routinely covered in bees of many types, moths, and butterflies.  I especially appreciate the plant labels and aspire to put some of these species in my own garden. 

      In closing, whether you are puttering in your own backyard or heading to the ocean or hills to escape the heat, I wish you all a relaxing and peaceful weekend.

       Best, Mo








Cool Idea from Another City: New York’s Water Filtering ‘Plus Pool’

Evening Standard

July 29, 2021

Article references work of Lamont researchers.


Beyond Human Endurance

Washington Post

July 28, 2021

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Radley Horton and cites research co-authored with Lamont PhD Colin Raymond and colleague.


Could a Surfside Building Disaster Happen on the NY or NJ Coast?


July 26, 2021

Article quotes Lamont geodynamicist Jacqueline Austermann and geophysicist Klaus Jacob.


Wet-Bulb Conditions

BYU Radio

July 26, 2021

Interview with Lamont climate scientist Radley Horton.


Big Oil's Lies Are 'Criminal, Unforgivable

Energy Mix

July 25, 2021

Article on op-ed by Lamont climate scientist Adam Sobel.


Wet-Bulb Temperature Is Important, Climate Experts Say. So, What Is It?

Washington Post

July 24, 2021

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Radley Horton and CIESIN postdoc Cascade Tuholske.


Air Pollution Is Harming People in the Global South at an Alarming Rate. A Climate School Project Wants to Help.

Columbia News

July 23, 2021

Interview with Lamont climate scientist Dan Westervelt.


How Severe Is the Megadrought in the West?

The Hill

July 23, 2021

Opinion piece by Lamont climate scientists Jason Smerdon and Ben Cook with bioclimatologist Park Williams.


Weather App Now Warns You When It's Hot Enough to Drop Dead


July 23, 2021

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Radley Horton.


8 Ways Life Would Get Weird on a Flat Earth

Live Science

July 23, 2021

Article quotes Lamont geodesist James Davis.


Extreme Weather Globally May Only Get Worse

WNYC - The Brian Lehrer Show

July 22, 2021

Interview with Lamont climate scientist Adam Sobel.


See How Wildfire Smoke Spread Across America

The New York Times

July 21, 2021

Article quotes Lamont atmospheric scientist Róisín Commane.


This Summer Could Change Our Understanding of Extreme Heat

National Geographic

July 20, 2021

Article quotes and cites research co-authored by Lamont climate scientist Kai Kornhuber.


How Climate Change Fuels Extreme Weather

Columbia Energy Exchange

July 20, 2021

Interview with Lamont climate scientist Adam Sobel.


Columbia Climate School: Investors Must Prepare for ‘Multi-Hazard’ Climate Risk

ESG Clarity

July 19, 2021

Article on partnership between Columbia Climate School and AllianceBernstein quotes Lamont climate scientist Radley Horton.


‘It Is All Connected’: Extreme Weather in the Age of Climate Change

The New York Times

July 16, 2021

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Kai Kornhuber.


Experts Fear Germany’s Deadly Floods Are a Glimpse into Climate Future

National Geographic

July 16, 2021

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Kai Kornhuber.




What It’s Like at Columbia Climate School in the Green Mountains

July 19, 2021

The immersive and exciting program took students through deep dives into climate science and live problem-solving simulations.