Lamont Weekly Report, November 22, 2019

    The U.S. Congress avoided a federal government shutdown this week, but only by a few hours. Yesterday afternoon the Senate passed a continuing resolution, passed two days earlier by the House, that will continue to fund federal agencies through Friday, December 20. The President signed the bill before last night’s midnight deadline.

    Back in New York, the Geochemistry Division welcomed the recent arrival of Postdoctoral Research Scientist Matthew Jerram. A graduate student of Alex Halliday at the University of Oxford until earlier this fall, Matt completed a Ph.D. thesis on chromium isotopes in the deep mantle and early solar system. At Lamont, he will work with Alex and others on stable isotopes of transition metals as tracers of processes affecting surface water and groundwater.

    On Tuesday evening, the Earth Institute staged the second of this year’s Earth Series of lectures and discussions at The Pratt House on the Upper East Side. The event featured a discussion of the topic “Communicating climate change” by Robin Bell and Andy Revkin, Director of the Initiative on Communication and Sustainability at the Earth Institute. Alex Halliday hosted and moderated the discussion.

    On Wednesday, Columbia University hosted an event in the Risk Mitigation Leadership Forum Series of RenaissanceRe on “Climate change: Response and resilience leadership forum”. Forum themes – each discussed by a four-person panel – included flood risk, wildfire risk, severe storms, coupled extremes, and the role of governments in addressing these issues. Panelists at the forum included Arlene Fiore, Radley Horton, Chia-Ying Lee, Robert Field from Columbia’s Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Mike Gerrard from the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Darby Jack from the Mailman School, Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh from the Business School, and representatives from city, state, and federal governments; non-governmental organizations; and the insurance industry. Panel moderators included forum co-organizer Adam Sobel and the Earth Institute’s Andy Revkin.      

    Media coverage of Lamont scientists continued this week with a Medill Reports story on how the most recent Comer Climate Conference provided an opportunity for those in attendance to remember Wally Broecker and his seminal role in establishing the annual conference and in the field of climate science more generally. Elizabeth Clark appeared in one of the story’s photos from past conferences, and Jerry McManus and Lamont alumnus Jeff Severinghaus were among those quoted on Wally’s scientific impact and the special attention he gave to students and early-career colleagues.

    Lamont is hosting a second visit today by representatives from the asset management firm AllianceBernstein, with whom the Observatory has partnered to develop a new curriculum on the topic of climate risk and investment performance. Today’s Climate Science and Portfolio Risk Workshop is a structured and interactive discussion of new and emerging developments in climate science and their implications for portfolio management and other financial decisions. Speakers and panelists from Lamont and other units across Columbia, through a mix of presentations and interactive discussions, aim to deepen mutual understanding of the risks and opportunities arising from both predictable and uncertain elements of Earth’s climate system and the social, political, and economic responses to climate impacts. Lamont participants, led by Art Lerner-Lam, include Ryan Abernathey, Dave Goldberg, Radley Horton, Christine McCarthy, Marco Tedesco, and Mingfang Ting.

    Also today, Lamont is host to the third VolcaNYC symposium, a gathering of scientists from the New York City area who study volcanoes and magmas. Einat Lev is one of the symposium organizers, and presenters today include Anna Barth, Janine Birnbaum, Roger Buck, Brett Carr, Michelle Lee, Pat McGovern, Carolina Munoz-Saez, Terry Plank, Kelvin Tian, and Henry Towbin.                                                                                             

    This afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by mineral physicist Jung-Fu Lin, a Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Texas, Austin.  He will be speaking about “Evidence for a chemically layered mantle.” I hope that you will make an effort to hear his evidence.