Lamont Weekly Report, November 21, 2018

    This workweek has been shortened 40% by the Thanksgiving holiday, and this weekly report is also briefer than usual.

    Last Friday, Eos published the citation for Bärbel Hönisch’s 2018 Willi Dansgaard Award, given by the American Geophysical Union’s Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology Section ( The citation, by Jim Zachos of the University of California, Santa Cruz, is accompanied by Bärbel’s response. The award will be given next month at the AGU Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C.

    Three days later, Eos published the citation that will accompany Kassandra Costa’s receipt of the 2018 Harry Elderfield Student Paper Award, also to be given by the American Geophysical Union’s Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology Section at the AGU Fall Meeting next month ( This is the first year of this award, intended to recognize “an exemplary manuscript from a Ph.D. graduate student and exceptional promise to continued contributions in the fields of paleoceanography and/or paleoclimatology.” Kassandra’s citation, to be given by Jerry McManus, singles out her 2016 Nature paper on dust deposition, nutrient utilization, and biological productivity in the central equatorial Pacific during the last glacial period.

    Once again, kudos to Bärbel and Kassandra!

    Last Friday, Elizabeth Shoenfelt successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis on “Interactions between glacial activity, dust-borne iron speciation, diatom productivity, and the biological pump.” Elizabeth’s committee included her thesis advisor, Ben Bostick, as well as Bob Anderson, Sonya Dyhrman, Gisela Winckler, and Jessica Fitzsimmons from the Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M University. In January, Elizabeth will begin a departmental postdoctoral fellowship awarded by MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. At MIT, she will work with Lamont and DEES alumnus David McGee, Ed Boyle, and other faculty members on iron and other nutrients in the ocean. Congratulations, Dr. Shoenfelt!

    On Monday, Nature Climate Change published a Perspective by Robin Bell, Jonny Kingslake, and colleagues from the University of Colorado and Rowan University on the role of surface hydrology on ice sheet mass balance in Antarctica. The group drew attention to the importance of atmospheric warming to ice-sheet mass loss, and they described three mechanisms by which surface melting may accelerate loss rates: enhancement of melting and runoff by albedo feedback, meltwater injection to the ice bed and modification of basal conditions, and meltwater-induced ice-shelf fracture and collapse. The relative importance of the three mechanisms will depend on future greenhouse gas emissions, the group argues, and will determine the rate at which Antarctic ice loss contributes to rising sea levels. A Marie Aronsohn story on the paper’s findings was added to our web site, also on Monday (

    Two Lamont scientists received mention in New Yorker stories this week. An article last Saturday was devoted to Gisela Winckler’s experience at an “Ask a Scientist” event co-sponsored by the Earth Institute and the Climate Museum and designed to answer climate questions from passersby ( And Radley Horton is quoted in an long Bill McKibben story on the challenges of climate change to appear in next week’s print edition of the magazine (

    The New York Times today has a lengthy article on Snedens Landing and some of the homes and residents that make our neighborhood interesting; the Observatory receives passing mention in the story (  

    I hope that everyone will take advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday to spend time with family and friends. May you also join me in giving thanks that we at Lamont are able to devote our working hours to improving our understanding of our home planet, and to endeavoring to ensure that our global environment will be sustainable for all of the generations that will follow us.