Lamont Weekly Report, November 24, 2021

    Hello Friends,  A short note to send us all off to a long weekend of relaxation and, if we are lucky, yummy comfort food with family.  As one of my children is in mandatory pre-travel quarantine this week, we had an early family Thanksgiving two weekends ago.  This holiday is such an important moment to pause and reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives and to appreciate and support the struggles of those fighting, across our communities and nation, for better wages, healthcare, representation, economic and social justice and more.  And of course, our ongoing work and activism on behalf of our beautiful planet Earth who can’t raise her own voice except through an increasing frequency of natural disasters and extinctions in response to our meddling with Mother Nature.

    In the last ten days I’ve been fortunate to meet and greet numerous folks engaged in these efforts.  This past Monday we welcomed our new state Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick to a tour of Lamont.  Senator Reichlin-Melnick represents the 38th district, which includes most of Rockland County and parts of Westchester County and he is deeply committed to climate causes and environmental justice.  We toured the Core Repository, Andy Juhl’s Marine Biology lab, and the Tree Ring Lab where Andy, Nikki Davi, Laia Andreu-Hayles, and myself all helped lay out the critical science going on in our groups.  We ended in the Directorate where we discussed the future of off-shore wind energy with Dave Goldberg, Lamont’s Deputy Director.  I think this was a great first step in working with our local representative and we all walked away thinking he would be a great partner in the efforts to build a more sustainable and scientifically-informed future.  Thank you everyone who contributed to the success of this visit, especially Louise McMath who led the planning effort.   

    Last Friday I also attended a meeting with Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk organized by the EVPR office of Jeannette Wing.  Scientists from across CU presented lightning talks about clean energy initiatives and we were able to learn more about DOE’s energy research priorities.  I followed this meeting with another meeting on Saturday, hosted by mutual colleagues, of a small group of locally-based DOE finance folks.  We focused our discussion on the types of partnerships that could be built between funding agencies, the university, and the finance sector.  What is the basic Earth and climate science research needed to inform and facilitate the clean energy transition?  All of these events were nicely capped by Monday’s presentation in the Columbia Climate School’s Earth Series that presented “Energy Transition Imperative: How Do We Get There From Here?” with Alex Halliday and Jason Bordoff, two of the founding Deans of the Columbia Climate School (and Alex of course also has his lab on the Lamont campus). 

    Moving to campus updates, I am pleased to report that we received 100 applications to the LDEO post-doctoral fellowship program.  Please look for the email from Ben Bostick with instructions on how to engage with the candidate review process.  With respect to the AGU Fall meeting and the annual LDEO reception, Stacey Vassallo from Development writes:Although we would have liked to have held our traditional in-person reception at this year’s Fall AGU meeting, this is not possible due to the continued restrictions.  We hope to gather again next year in Chicago.” 

    A few shout-outs to the impactful work being done on campus: to Lamont Research Professor Bruce “The Lobbyist” Shaw, congratulations on being part of a team that was awarded the prestigious HPCwire Editor’s and Reader’s Choice Award in 2021 for “Best Use of HPC (high-performance computing) in the Physical Sciences”. Based on Bruce’s work, the study used supercomputers to simulate almost a million years of California earthquakes in order to better understand present-day risk.  You can read more about the study here.  Lamont Research Professor Einat Lev also shared a spectacular thermal video of the La Palma eruption taken by Lamont’s new drone’s camera.  And there are many more great stories at links below.

    On November 18th Lauren Ritchie, Columbia University undergraduate and founder of The Eco Justice Project, hosted Columbia Climate Conversations: The Sustainable Fashion Revolution, a discussion at the "intersection of food, climate change, and justice".  I appreciated the parting advice of one of the panelists—“Sustainable fashion is a life style, being intentional, consuming less, upcycling, thrifting, buying new and loving what you have”.  We follow this advice in our household with Patagonia’s Wornwear website and Eileen Fisher Renew being two family favorites to source clothing.  And have I mentioned my eyeglasses are made out of recycled ocean plastic?  (Yes Mo, you’ve mentioned that a million times.). And finally, DEES Professor Adam Sobel wrote a sobering article about the recent COP26 meeting in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reminding us all of the U.S.’s culpability in the climate crisis we are in.  You are right Adam, it is sad. 

    I’ll end by sharing an excerpt from a lovely letter (a real paper letter) I received this week from Dr. Jeff Fox, a former Lamonter and also former director of the Ocean Drilling Program.  He sent me an oil-bearing core sample (encased in acrylic) from DSDP Leg 1, Site 2 from the Gulf of Mexico that, if you think about it, is definitely not what you want to tap into from a scientific drill ship.  The good news, of course, is that nascent ocean drilling program did not cause a Deepwater Horizon-type disaster, and that after five decades of operations, the ocean drilling programs have never caused any sort of environmental degradation in the deep sea, let alone a disaster.  It is a safety record we can be proud of.  Jeff also wrote: “Based on my readings of the LDEO Weekly Report on matters arising at the Observatory, it suggests to me that you are spread so thin as to transmit light as you and the Directorate Team keep a steady hand on the tiller assuring Lamont’s productive scientific trajectory.  The summary of the contributions made on a weekly basis is remarkable regarding breadth and diversity.  I get exhausted just reading about these achievements and am reminded how lucky I was to pass through the LDEO portal.”

    Hear, hear!  Thank you, Jeff.  And I want to especially thank this week the Directorate Team, including Dave Goldberg, Miriam Cinquegrana, and Nicole DeRoberts especially.  Let us all take a few days off and thicken back up!

Have a peaceful break.  Mo








Why Did Glacial Cycles Intensify a Million Years Ago?

National Science Foundation 

November 24, 2021

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


Greenland saw record ice loss from calving icebergs and ocean melt over the last year

The Washington Post 

November 23, 2021

“The long-term past two decades have shown us the incredible wrongness in calling ‘glacial pace’ something slow,” said Marco Tedesco, a research professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.


Once Shunned in Antarctica, Women Are Doing Crucial Polar Research

Scientific American

November 18, 2021

Cites Lamont scientist Indrani Das.


COP26 Highlights an Infuriating, Depressing, Miserable Situation. And Yet…

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,

November 18

By Lamont scientist Adam Sobel.

The Tales Trees Tell, From History to Climate Change

Christian Science Monitor

November 17, 2021

Features Lamont Tree Ring Lab Director Ed Cook.


Cutting Carbon Emissions Means Changes in Daily Lives by Embracing Technology

Washington Post

November 16, 2021

Features Lamont’s Education and Outreach Coordinator Laurel Zaima.


Scientists Are Racing to Save the Last Ice Area, an Arctic Noah’s Ark

Science News

November 15, 2021

Article features Bob Newton, Senior Research Scientist at Lamont, and colleagues.

Where Covid-19’s Death Grip Slipped

SciTech Daily

November 15, 2021

Article on research led by Lamont scientist Lex van Geen.


What Can I Do to Further Climate Progress?

Inside Climate News

November 15, 2021

Interview with Lamont scientist Jason Smerdon.

2 Ivory Smugglers Captured in International Operation, U.S. Says

The New York Times

November 12, 2021

“We found that most of the ivory was less than three years old,” Kevin Uno, a paleoecologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, said. “That’s bad news for elephants and good for governments because they’re there safeguarding their stockpiles”, Kevin added.


The ‘Last Ice Area’ May Provide an Arctic Refuge in a Warming World


November 11, 2021

Last Ice Area Study by Bob Newton, Senior Research Scientist at Lamont, and colleagues.





Where Covid-19’s Death Grip Slipped (Briefly)

November 15, 2021

Geochemist Lex van Geen works at the intersection of public health and environmental risks. His research on natural arsenic contamination in groundwater has alerted the world community to this insidious danger over two decades.

How Close Are We to Climate Tipping Points?

November 11, 2021

“As world leaders gather at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, to take bolder action against climate change, human activity has already warmed the planet 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels.”