Lamont Weekly Report, March 30, 2018

    The surest sign of the change of seasons this week was the opening of the Major League Baseball season yesterday. Neither the Mets nor the Yankees disappointed local fans.

    Last Friday afternoon, Alexandra Bausch successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis on the “Interactive effects of ocean acidification and other environmental drivers on planktonic microorganisms in marine ecosystems.” Her thesis committee included Bob Anderson, Hugh Ducklow, Kevin Griffin, Andy Juhl, and Chris Hayes from the University of Southern Mississippi.  Congratulations, Dr. Bausch!

    The Geochemistry Division welcomed two visitors this week. Junaid Ali Khattak, from the Department of Environmental Sciences at Quaid-I-Azam University in Islamabad, is visiting through August. Junaid works on the origin of naturally elevated fluoride levels in well waters in the Punjab plains, and his host at Lamont is Lex van Geen.

    Mao Chen, an economic geologist and geochemist who works on gold deposits, is visiting Lamont from the Faculty of Earth Resources at the China University of Geosciences in Wuhan. During his year-long visit, Mao will be hosted by Sid Hemming.

    Nature magazine this week includes a Jeff Tollefson news article on a project led by Joaquim Goes to forecast blooms of the invasive dinoflagellate Noctiluca scintillans in the Arabian Sea ( Blooms of Noctiluca can be so thick that they remove most of the oxygen in local seawater, drive off or kill the local fish population, and clog coastal desalination plants. The long-term goal of the work is to improve the resolution of the forecasts to approach the scale of individual desalination and aquaculture facilities.

    On Thursday, our web site gained a link to a BBC radio show about Marie Tharp and her first maps of the global seafloor ( Entitled “Mapping the Ocean’s Secrets,” the show includes segments of interviews with both Bill Ryan and Marie Tharp herself.

    Also in the news this week is Wednesday’s story in the “Earth Matters” column of Nyack News & Views on the accumulation of plastic waste in the oceans, an article that mentions the work of Joaquim Goes and Beizhan Yan on the distribution of plastic microbeads in the Hudson River estuary and New York harbor ( Margie Turrin posted a blog and photo essay yesterday on her fieldwork with Nicolás Young and others documenting the history of the Greenland Ice Sheet in western Greenland over the past 8000 years ( A story yesterday in GeekWire featured the project of Pierre Dutrieux and his colleagues from the University of Washington to monitor autonomously with Seaglider undersea drones the conditions beneath and seaward of Antarctic ice shelves during the austral winter ( And Rockland County Times yesterday carried a story, with a quote from Cassie Xu, on the Earth Day fair that Lamont will co-host with St. Thomas Aquinas College next month to promote awareness of environmental issues and sustainability solutions (

    Next week, Juan Torres will retire after devoting nearly half a century of service to Columbia University. Juan has been a Driver in Lamont’s Traffic Office since 1995. Pat O’Reilly pointed out to me that Juan began working at Columbia on July 16, 1969, the day that the Apollo 11 spacecraft was launched to the Moon. Juan’s last day at work will be next Wednesday, so please join me in thanking him for his many contributions to the Observatory.

    This afternoon, the Earth Science Colloquium will be given by biological oceanographer and marine ecologist Stephanie Dutkiewicz, a Principal Research Scientist in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences ( Stephanie will be speaking on “Phytoplankton in a changing world.” Before the world changes further, I hope that you will join me in her audience.

    Today’s Colloquium will be followed by a special reception for Terry Plank, in celebration of her being named the recipient of the 2018 Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society of London ( Terry will be given the medal in London this June, but we can toast this special recognition of her work a bit closer to home, in the Monell Lower Lobby. I look forward to seeing you there.