Lamont Weekly Report, March 11, 2022

Hello Friends,  It has been a busy week.  On Monday, folks from the Tree Ring Lab and myself met with Tim Termini, District Representative for the American Chestnut Foundation.  We had a long discussion about the reintroduction this important native tree that has been largely wiped out by blight.  Their goal raises interesting ethical issues around genetically-modified organisms in a rapidly changing world that I look forward to discussing with the tree ring scientists when we have some time to debrief. 

Also on Monday, Jorge Otero-Pailos, Professor and Director of Historic Preservation at Columbia University GSAPP, and Gisela Winckler, Lamont Research Professor, participated in a Climate and Society series event run by the Center for Science and Society on The Story and Ethics of Dust: Linking the Past to the Present.  The event featured a dialogue between two colleagues with diverse perspectives looking at dust as a historical, climatic and artistic record. The conversation will be available on CSS's website and YouTube channel. An event later in the series, on April 26, will feature Jason Smerdon, Lamont Research Professor in the Ocean and Climate Physics Division, in conversation with Rhiannon Stephens, Associate Professor in the Department of History at Columbia University. 

Also, on Monday we were pleased to welcome Angel Cherpanath, who joined our team as the new Director of Finance and Administration, replacing Edie Miller who moved to a new Climate School position.  Angel comes to us from the Columbia School of Nursing, where she served as their Director of Accounting and Financial Planning.  She has been with Columbia since 2013, and brings with her a wealth of experience in budgeting, accounting, and financial planning, as well as experience in our Columbia in-house systems like ARC, FDS and PAC.  We are very excited to have her join the Directorate, and I hope you all join me in welcoming her to Lamont.

Tuesday, March 8th, was International Women’s Day and in celebration, and under this year's UN’s theme “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, the Columbia Climate School featured a few of the women at the school who are leading on these issues, among them Nicole Davi, Adjunct Senior Research Scientist at the Tree-Ring Laboratory.  And speaking of amazing women scientists, I started today as the moderator of “A University Symposium: Promoting Credibility, Reproducibility and Integrity” with the special privilege of introducing the keynote speaker, Professor Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University.  Naomi is a world-leading voice on the role of science in society and the reality of anthropogenic climate change.  The author or co-author of 7 books, and over 150 articles, essays and opinion pieces, her writing is engaging and wide-ranging, often entertaining and enraging you at the same time.  In other words, impactful.  Her book Merchants of Doubt was made into a powerful film documentary and another book of hers, The Collapse of Western Civilization, should be required reading for everyone—it is a short and powerful vision of what our future will look like if we don’t quickly get our carbon pollution under control.

Further linking the topics of data reproducibility and credibility with enhancing the visibility of women and minorities in the sciences, I’d like to give a special shout-out to Lamont Research Professor Joerg Schaefer, Post-doctoral Research Scientist Benjamin Keisling, and their colleagues at various institutions. Yesterday, Nature Reviews Method Primers published their paper "Cosmogenic Nuclide Techniques” which I’m sure will become the go-to text for anyone wanting to understand how cosmic nuclides can help unravel Earth’s history, including the ice ages.  But even more ground-breaking was their inclusion of a section devoted to assessing DEIA representation in their field and discussing strategies for increasing diversity and inclusion in the geosciences.  Joerg sends special kudos to Benjamin and co-author Jane Willenbring, both nationally recognized leaders in the DEIA space.  I think we can also be happy to see a top journal allocate space to this important issue and take inspiration for our own paper writing.  

Another recent paper in the journal Geology, led by DEES PhD alum Genevieve Coffey and written with former and current Lamont colleagues including Associate Research Scientist Stephen Cox, DEES Professor Sidney Hemming, Lamont Research Professor Gisela Winckler, and former Lamonters Heather Savage and Pratigya Polissar, continues to make waves (seismic waves) in the popular press, including The Washington Post and Popular Science.  Genevieve’s work extends the paleo record of seismicity on the San Andreas Fault and provides evidence for past major earthquakes in the creeping section of the fault. The team’s use of biomarkers to measure thermal history, combined with argon diffusion and K-Ar dating to infer ages and time histories of heating, represents a new and creative way to reconstruct past earthquake history.  Their results show that creeping faults, generally considered to be less of a hazard, may in fact host large earthquakes over longer time scales. Their new method sheds light on the nature of seismic risk and will soon be applied to other major fault systems around the world.

Lastly, today we bid adieu to Dr. Guy Paxman, one of our Postdoctoral Research Scientists in the sea level group.  From his mentor Jacky Austermann, “Guy was awarded a prestigious research fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust, which he is taking to go back to Durham University in the UK. His last day at Lamont is on March 18”.  Best of luck Guy!

Happy weekend,








An Alaskan Testament to a Warming World 

Food & Environment Reporting Network 

March 8, 2022 

Feature on film about Lamont-Doherty’s Ice Bridges project. 


What the Western U.S. Megadrought Tells Us About Climate Change 

World Economic Forum  

March 8, 2022 

Lamont-Doherty/GISS – Megadrought Study coauthored by Jason Smerdon, Lamont Research Professor, and Benjamin Cook, Adjunct Associate Research Scientist. 


Man Rescued After Almost an Hour in Cook Inlet’s Icy Waters 

Nature World News  

March 7, 2022 

Cites sea-ice research by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. 


Why Ice Melt in Antarctica and Greenland Matters for Us 

The Sweaty Penguin  

March 4, 2022 

Interview with Lamont scientist Robin Bell.  (Starts about ¾ way through the episode) 


5 groundbreaking researchers who mapped the ocean floor, tested atomic theories, vanquished malaria and more 

The Conversation 

March 4, 2022 

Features Marie Tharp of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. 


Below, articles pertaining to study of San Andreas Fault by Paleoseismologist Genevieve Coffey at GNS Science, and Stephen Cox, Associate Research Scientist at Lamont. 


New Research Suggests That Central California Has Experienced Bigger Quakes Than Thought 


March 8, 2022  


OK, the Least Dangerous Part of the San Andreas Fault Could Still Cause a Big  


March 8, 2022 


The San Andreas Fault: Is There Seismic Danger in Its ‘Silent and Slow’ Part? 

MVS Noticias (Mexico)  

March 8, 2022 


The Central Part of the San Andreas Fault Could Represent a Seismic Danger 

El Ciudadano (Chile)  

March 8, 2022 

‘Aseismic’ Creeping Part of California Fault Once Hosted Huge Earthquakes 

Washington Post  

March 7, 2022 


The ‘Slow and Silent’ Part of the San Andreas Fault May Still Be an Earthquake Threat 

Science Alert 

March 6, 2022 


San Andreas Fault: What to Know 

The Travel  

March 6, 2022 




Learning From Tree Rings: An Interview With Nicole Davi 

By Nataley Williams 

March 8, 2022 

“A dendrochronologist explains how tree rings can teach us about our past, present, and future.” 


How These Women Are Contributing to a Sustainable Tomorrow 

By Columbia Climate School 

March 8, 2022 

“For International Women’s Day, we highlight a few women in the Columbia Climate School who are leading on climate science and adaptation, and helping to promote equity, sustainability, and resilience.”