Lamont Weekly Report, November 10, 2017

    Last Friday, the U.S. Global Change Research Program issued the Climate Science Special Report, the first of two volumes in the Fourth National Climate Assessment and “an authoritative assessment of the science of climate change, with a focus on the U.S.” ( Radley Horton is one of the lead authors of the report. On Friday, Kevin Krajick posted to our web site an interview with Radley and with Timothy Hall, another of the report’s lead authors from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies­ ( That evening, in a segment introduced by Judy Woodruff, PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan interviewed Radley about the report ( Radley was also lead author of an op-ed piece on the report’s findings in The New York Times on Monday (

    Also last Friday, Helen Janiszewski successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis, supervised by Jim Gaherty and Geoff Abers, on “New insights on the Cascadia subduction zone from amphibious seismic data.” In addition to Jim and Geoff, her thesis committee included Marc Spiegelman, Spahr Webb, and Maureen Long from Yale University. Helen has accepted a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism that will begin later this month.

    The Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics Division welcomed two new Postdoctoral Research Scientists into Einat Lev’s physical volcanology group this week. Colton Conroy earned a Ph.D. in civil engineering at Ohio State University in 2014 and has spent nearly three years in a postdoctoral position in Columbia University’s Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics Department. Colton develops computational models for geophysical fluid flows, including models for coastal circulation and transport, air-sea turbulence, high-frequency ocean waves, and overland flows. At Lamont, Colton will work with Einat on the development of models to study interactions of lava flows with obstacles and lava breakouts.  

    Brett Carr received a Ph.D. in geological sciences last year from Arizona State University, where he worked on variations in eruptive activity at silicic volcanoes, including lava flow emplacement and stability, transitions between effusive and explosive activity, and conduit dynamics. Brett’s thesis focused on recent eruptions of Merapi and Sinabung volcanoes in Indonesia. After graduation, Brett worked for the U.S. Geological Survey on remote sensing and photogrammetry applications for monitoring thermal features in Yellowstone National Park. Brett received an NSF postdoctoral fellowship to conduct fieldwork at Sinabung Volcano to improve understanding of the processes controlling the emplacement and collapse of its lava domes. At Lamont, Brett will work with Einat on lava dome stability and collapse, using ground- and drone-based visual and thermal imaging and photogrammetry, in addition to satellite remote sensing and numerical modeling.

    Lamont’s IcePod team this week began flying survey lines in their geophysical mapping of the Ross Ice Shelf and the underlying seafloor. Julian Spergel’s blog from McMurdo Station ( continued with a new entry on Tuesday.

    The most recent issue of Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres includes a paper by Xiaomeng Jin, Arlene Fiore, and their coauthors on the use of space-based atmospheric chemistry measurements to determine the abundances of the precursors to surface ozone, a major tropospheric pollutant. The team combined measurements of oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds – two classes of ozone precursors – from the Ocean Monitoring Instrument on NASA’s Aura spacecraft with a global chemical transport model to link column abundances to ground-level concentrations. They demonstrated that major northern mid-latitude cities such as New York over the years 2005-2015 showed increased sensitivity of ozone to oxides of nitrogen, implying that regional emission controls on those species will improve ozone air quality more than would have been the case one decade ago. A Kevin Krajick story on the paper’s findings was posted on the Lamont web site on Monday (, and International Business Times picked up the story one day later (

    On Monday, Lamont distributed the November issue of the Observatory’s electronic newsletter ( The issue includes links to five stories about Lamont science from the previous month, an article with highlights from Lamont’s Open House, the Columbia Commitment to climate response, Julian Spergel’s blog from the Rosetta-Ice team, and 10 recent media stories on Lamont science findings or Lamont scientists.

    From Sunday to Tuesday this week I was at Caltech, to co-chair a visiting committee to their Geological and Planetary Sciences Division. A distinctive feature of Caltech visiting committees is that half the members are also members of Caltech’s Board of Trustees, and many have long associations with the division under review. The committee deliberations on research programs differ from those of many visiting committees when long-term donors to those same programs are participants, and Trustees have front-row seats during discussions on the division’s needs and opportunities.

    Next Tuesday evening, as part of the Earth Institute’s Distinguished Lecture Series, Radley Horton and Adam Sobel will be panelists for a discussion on “Climate Response: Adaptation and Resiliency.” The third panelist will be Kate Orff, 2017 MacArthur Fellow and Director of the Urban Design Program in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. The event will be held at the Lotos Club in Midtown Manhattan.

    This afternoon, the Earth Science Colloquium speaker will be Laure Zanna, an ocean and climate dynamicist and an Associate Professor in Climate Physics in the Department of Physics at the University of Oxford ( Prof. Zanna will be speaking on “Ocean heat uptake and dynamical sea level rise: Past and future uncertainty.” May you rise from your office seat level and take up a place in her audience. I hope to see you there.