Lamont Weekly Report, October 20, 2017

    This week has been marked by beautiful fall weather, with high temperatures 5°-10°F higher than historical averages for each date. And yesterday the National Weather Service released its annual winter outlook, which calls for warmer than normal winter temperatures for most of the continental U.S. ( Not all effects of global climate change are bad.

    Andy Reed joined Lamont’s Office of Facilities and Management this week as the new Buildings and Grounds Manager for the Observatory. Andy is a mechanical engineer with more than 20 years of industrial experience in the operation, maintenance, and management of nuclear, hydroelectric, coal-fired, and gas-fired power plants. Prior to joining Lamont, he worked for Public Service Electric and Gas Company at their Hudson Generating Station in Jersey City. Please introduce yourself to Andy and join me in welcoming him to our campus. 

    On Monday, our web site gained a Sarah Fecht story on the Yellowstone supervolcano that quoted Einat Lev on the characteristics to be expected before and during the next major eruption from the Yellowstone caldera ( Several media stories had reported last week that the next Yellowstone eruption would be much sooner than previously expected, as soon as within the next few decades, but there has been no scientific basis for such a conclusion. Einat was also quoted in a VICE News story Monday about the overblown earlier reports (

    Wednesday was Columbia Giving Day, and Lamont raised $68,698 from 83 donors. For comparison, the Earth Institute outside of Lamont raised $75,846 from 69 donors, and Columbia University overall raised $15.6 million from more than 15,000 donors. Thanks to our Development team for their special efforts on Giving Day!

    Yesterday, Lamont was visited by a delegation from Columbia University’s Office of Alumni and Development and Office of Communications and Public Affairs. Visitors included Paul Keenan, Senior Vice President for University Development; Jerry Kisslinger, Deputy Vice President for Alumni and Development Strategic Communications; Clay Torres, Deputy Vice President for Administration; Carolina Castro, Content Producer, Marketing and Communications; Michael DiSarno, Senior Executive Director for Alumni Relations; Gwynne Gauntlett, Director of Digital Strategy; Keely Henderson, Senior Associate Dean of Advancement, School of Engineering and Applied Science; Robert Hunter, Chief Financial Officer; Nicole Larkins, Executive Assistant for the Deputy Vice President for Administration; Sally Lee, Editor-in-Chief, Columbia Magazine; Christine McPherson, Senior Associate Director for Human Resources; Alexander Muetzel, Leadership Gift Officer; Alyssa Myers, Proposal Writer, Principal Gifts; Tracy Quinn, Senior Director of Strategic Communications; Jeffrey Saks, Art Director, Columbia Magazine; Dylan Sands, Proposal Writer, Principal Gifts; and Linda Ury Greenberg, Director of Marketing Research. Marie Aronsohn hosted a breakout session for those visitors focused on marketing and communication, while the rest of the delegation enjoyed lunch on the deck outside the Comer Seminar Room. The group heard presentations on Lamont’s strategic initiatives and on the report of the Climate Response Task Force from three of our campus representatives on the task force: Mo Raymo, Dave Goldberg, and IRI’s Lisa Goddard. The visitors were then treated to tours of the Noble Gas Laboratory led by Joerg Schaefer, the Core Repository led by Mo; and the Tree-Ring Laboratory led by Caroline Leland.

    Also yesterday, a Kevin Krajick story on an International Ocean Discovery Program expedition to the Corinth rift, in the Gulf of Corinth, led by Co-chief Scientist Donna Shillington was added to our web site ( The project team, working from the drill ship Fugro Synergy, plans three drill holes into the crust of this young continental rift to improve information on the timing and rates of fault activity, earthquake hazards in the region, and rifting processes more generally.

    Lamont’s own ship, the R/V Marcus Langseth, has been offshore New Zealand this week readying for the first of three expeditions to nearby areas sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

    Park Williams remained in the news this week because of his work on the contribution of climate change and other factors to wildfires in the western U.S. He was quoted in a story in Time on Tuesday ( and an article on Inside Climate News ( yesterday. And Paul Richards was quoted in a Washington Post story today on the earthquake hazard in the vicinity of the North Korean nuclear test site (

    On Thursday evening next week, Ben Holtzman will be featured in a public event at the Hayden Planetarium on “Exploring Scientific Data.” Ben calls his contribution a “half-SeismoDome show,” half the length of his usual show so that time can be shared with a presentation on a new framework for visualizing astronomical data. Ben writes, “Our part will be more of a behind-the-scenes presentation on how and why we add sound to our movies (and vice versa), a sort of case for the value of data sonification. Also, it will be the debut of Martin Pratt's sublime new movies and a new sonification method.” Admission is free, but a ticket must be obtained online ( The next full presentation of SeismoDome at the planetarium is planned for the spring.

    This afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium will be given by marine biologist and ecologist Deborah Steinberg, the CSX Professor of Marine Science at the College of William and Mary School of Marine Science and Department of Biological Sciences at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (  Prof. Steinberg will be speaking on “Zooplankton and export around the world.” I hope that you will join me in the audience for her talk.