Lamont Weekly Report, November 12, 2021

    Hello Friends,  How many people enjoyed the swooping approach up the back entrance yesterday?  It was gracious and grand (potholes aside) with radiant colors from all fall foliage.  A big thanks to Andy Reed and his team, and Howie Matza and bus crew, for pivoting our transport procedures on a moment’s notice and getting the front entrance of Lamont repaved in time for winter.  The facilities crew has been short-handed for months, as we push forward with filling empty positions, and I am deeply appreciative of the incredible job they are doing.  We are also trying to fill a senior executive assistant position in the Directorate, as well as our Assistant Director for DEIA position.  I can tell you that it is a tough, tough hiring landscape out there, seemingly in every field. 

    Thank you to everyone who showed up Wednesday for the presentation by Federal Science Partners co-founders Meg Thompson and Joel Widder.  For those who missed, we forwarded a link to the recording and background materials.  The major message I took away was that there has never been a better time to reach out to your program managers and discuss future plans.  As a former early- and even mid-career researcher I’ve heard this advice before, but actually doing that (um, am I supposed to cold-email them???) often seemed far beyond my comfort zone.  If that sounds familiar, please reach out to Marley Bauce in the new Office of Research—maybe we can even get a small informal group together to discuss such connection strategies.  Lamont also has the benefit of having a number of former program managers, from various agencies, on our staff who are always happy to share their experiences and advice.  And knowing Marley, he will probably have a memo with action items on my desk before the ink is dry on this newsletter. 

    Next week, another Town Hall will discuss the organizational structure for the Climate School’s launch year as well as projects and initiatives being put in place to support our research community. And I very much doubt the ink will be dry on those PowerPoint slides when they are presented.  Every day the Climate School team is working on myriads of issues trying to push this ambitious, audacious endeavor forward.  Each day we are asking, “How does this best advance knowledge, scholarship, science, people, student experiences, and more?”.  The vast number of moving parts and the gargantuan size of this task can make it feel overwhelming—but I also know from conversations with colleagues outside of Columbia, that the world is incredibly impressed at the scale of Columbia’s ambition in attacking the problem of global sustainability and climate change.  I’m honored and humbled to be a part of this process.  Please register here for the Town Hall.

    On Monday, I met with one of Lamont’s biggest supporters, the Vetlesen Foundation and Maurizio Morello.  Each year we provide a report on LDEO’s annual activities and research ambitions and thank the Monell Family in particular for their ongoing support.  The Vetlesen Foundation also supports and underwrites the Vetlesen Prize, which is administered by LDEO and Columbia University and given out every three years.  It is essentially the Nobel Prize of Geosciences and was won most recently by Dr. Anny Cazenave for her work on geodesy and sea level.  In the new year we will begin the process of finding the next worthy recipient of this prestigious award and I will be reminded again of the generosity and support of the Vetlesen Foundation.  Some of you know this but Lamont’s first ship, the Vema, was given to Lamont by the Vetlesen family and the name of the ship was a combination of the names Vetlesen and Maude, Ambrose Monell’s grandmother.  Ambrose and I both were delighted to be sent this amazing and beautifully executed virtual exhibit titled “Voyagers of the R/V Vema. A quarter of a Century of Geophysical Research at Sea”, recently published by the American Institute of Physics.

    Two more announcements—please join me in wishing Marie DeNoia Aronsohn, our former Director of Strategic Communications, all the best in her new position as Director of Strategic Communications for Barnard College. She will transition to her new role at Barnard on Monday. Marie, thank you for all your outstanding contributions to Lamont over the past 4.5 years!  Not to mention the many video do-overs you gave me.  We will all miss you and wish you well in your next professional adventure within Columbia.  (And all media inquiries should be directed to Kevin Krajick until we are able to secure Marie's replacement.)

    Also, last semester, members of LDEO, CIESIN, and IRI started a “pod” of the national NSF-funded Unlearning Racism in Geoscience (URGE) program designed to promote anti-racism on campus. Building on the success of last semester’s Development phase, the URGE members at Lamont would like to invite newcomers to Lamont, or those who could not participate in the spring, to join “to improve our deliverables during the national URGE Refinement phase next spring.”  Please consider engaging with this important institutional effort. To participate or even just receive updates, please complete this Google form. You can learn about the initial stage, as well as the future of the program here. Or join via Slack here.

    This morning I enjoyed hosting the graduate students of the Climate and Society program on a Core Lab tour, peppering them with stories of manganese nodules, nannofossils, and nautical adventures. It reminds me to thank everyone who has been helping with ongoing tours of campus for downtown Columbia University leadership, students, and staff.  On Wednesday this week, that included Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Jim Glover and Executive Director, Project Management Kathryn Lattimer.  Within the Directorate we are always happy to facilitate tours and deeply appreciate the time Lamonters contribute to this effort.

    I’ll end with some nature numbers:  five hundred more daffodils planted this week; approximately ten days ago when the trees in the Lamont sanctuary forest stopped photosynthesizing, about 15 days later than usual (thanks Mukund!); and approximately a million lady bugs that descended on the campus this week.  They were literally flying into our faces during my patio meetings these past few days.

    Better than a swarm of locusts!   Have a lovely weekend.  Best, Mo








Scientists Explain Climate Change a Million Years Ago

Sciences et Avernir (France)

November  11, 2021

Article on a study by Lamont researchers Maayan Yehudai and Steven Goldstein.


Scientists Overturn a Million-Year-Old Climate Change Theory

EFE (Spain) 

November 10, 2021

Article on a study by Lamont researchers Maayan Yehudai and Steven Goldstein.


Major Climate Shift a Million Years Ago Linked to Ocean Currents 

November 10, 2021

Article on a study by Lamont researchers Maayan Yehudai and Steven Goldstein.


Researchers Explore Why Glacial Cycles Intensified a Million Years Ago

Azo Cleantech

November 9, 2021

The researchers analyzed cores of deep-sea sediments taken in the south and north Atlantic, where ancient deep waters passed by and left chemical clues. "What we found is the North Atlantic, right before this crash, was acting very differently than the rest of the basin," said lead author Maayan Yehudai, who did the work as a PhD. student at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.


Weather or Not: How You Can Fight Climate Change


November 8, 2021

Interview with Lamont scientist Radley Horton.


Something Big Happened to the Planet a Million Years Ago

SciTech Daily 

November 7, 2021

Article on a study by Lamont researchers Maayan Yehudai and Steven Goldstein.


Voyages of the R/V Vema

American Institute of Physics 

November 7, 2021

Extensive multimedia exhibit on Lamont’s R/V Vema.


What's behind climate talks' key elusive goal

Associated Press

November 7, 2021

“It’s physically possible (to limit warming to 1.5 degrees), but I think it is close to politically impossible in the real world barring miracles", Columbia University climate scientist Adam Sobel said. “Of course we should not give up advocating for it”, he added.

The Truth About Carbon Capture Technology

Popular Science

November 5, 2021

“There has been a lot of work on how to separate that carbon dioxide from other gases,” Peter Kelemen, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at Columbia University, says. “Once you have it, of course, you have to store it someplace.” From Kelemen’s perspective, storage and sequestration are “pretty much synonymous,” except sequestration is used when the storage of the carbon dioxide is “essentially permanent” through methods like geological storage. The Norwegian  Sleipner Project in the North Sea, for example, stores dense carbon dioxide fluid under pressure in a pore space under the seabed, Kelemen says. 


Melting Greenland Ice Linked to Rising Seas

Fox Weather 

November 4, 2021

Interview with Lamont scientist Marco Tedesco.




Why Did Glacial Cycles Intensify a Million Years Ago?

November 8, 2021

“A new study suggests that a million years ago, glaciers began sticking more persistently to their beds, triggering cycles of longer ice ages. Here, ice discharged from Iceland’s Breiðamerkurjökull glacier on its way to the Atlantic ocean.”