Lamont Weekly Report, October 27, 2017

    This Sunday will be the fifth anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Sandy, and on Monday a Sarah Fecht story on the lingering aftereffects of the storm – with comments from Klaus Jacob, John Mutter, and other Earth Institute members – was posted on our web site ( Media stories on New York City’s preparations for severe storms in the future included one in Newsweek Monday that quoted Klaus (, a longer story one day later in The Bridge, also with quotes from Klaus (, and one on NBC News Wednesday that quoted Radley Horton (

    This week Joaquim Goes is on an oceanographic ship in the North Pacific Ocean. Joaquim wrote earlier today, “We had to scurry into a fishing port in Hokkaido last week to escape typhoon Lan. The day after tomorrow we will have another one come directly at us. I anticipate that we will have to find another port if the weather gets bad by tomorrow evening.” Also, Hao Luo, a graduate student from Xiamen University, began a one-year visit with Joaquim’s group this week to study photosynthetic gene expression in Noctiluca scintillans.

    Donna Shillington, in turn, is on the Fugro Synergy this week in the Gulf of Corinth on an International Ocean Discovery Program expedition to study the structure and dynamics of the Corinth rift. Yesterday, Donna wrote, “Things are going relatively well out here. We’re 100 m into our first hole and seeing some cool stuff. It’s a nice spot to sit for a couple of months of drilling - beautiful mountains onshore around us, calm waters, and we’re visited by dolphins every night (we think the ship lights attract fish/squid, which attract dolphins).”

    Our own ship, the R/V Langseth, is offshore New Zealand awaiting final permitting from the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service and border clearance from the New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries. Clearances are in hand from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade and New Zealand Customs. The first of three NSF-sponsored expeditions off New Zealand was scheduled to start tomorrow. Our crew and technical team are aboard the ship, which remains outside of territorial waters, and the science party and marine mammal observers are in Auckland. Once all clearances have been obtained, according to Sean Higgins, “we’ll still need a day or two in port to take fuel and provisions. Under the best case, the start of the project will be pushed back 3-4 days, and there will be a bit of a cascade effect on the end of the cruise and especially with ocean-bottom seismometer pickup. We’ll be getting that all sorted once we can project schedules better.”

    On Monday, the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series posted online a paper coauthored by Andy Juhl reporting video observations of large adult Crysaora melanaster jellyfish in the ocean column beneath land-fast sea ice in the Chukchi Sea during spring field seasons in 2011-2014. The author team, led by Jennifer Purcell of Western Washington University, concluded that these gelatinous zooplankton winter over beneath the sea ice – contrary to an earlier view that the lifetime of the adult stage of this species is only a few months long – and provide a mechanism for commonly observed blooms of these and closely related species. A Kevin Krajick story on the paper, along with a segment of the video footage, was posted on our web site Monday (, and Live Science picked up the story – and the video – two days later (

    On Tuesday, Lamont was visited by Jeannette Wing, recently appointed as Director of Columbia University’s Data Science Institute ( Over lunch, Tim Crone, Farhana Mather, Art Lerner-Lam, Alberto Malinverno, Mahdad Parsi, and Mingfang Ting joined me in a discussion with Jeannette over Lamont’s strategic initiatives and potential areas of joint interest between the Observatory and DSI. Ahead of a meeting Jeannette held with CIESIN’s Dara Mendeloff and Sri Vinayagamoorthy, Art joined Jeannette on a tour of the drone lab led by Chris Zappa.

    Also on Tuesday, Nature Communications published online a paper led by Francesco Muschitiello reporting an analysis of a continuous sequence of glacial varves in southeastern Sweden that recorded the melting history of the Fennoscandian Ice sheet at the end of the last glaciation. Francesco and his coauthors showed that abrupt ice melting events coincide with the deposition times of ashfall from distant volcanic eruptions preserved in Greenland ice cores. The team concluded that changes in the surface reflectance and absorbance of the ice sheet from ash deposition outweighed any atmospheric cooling effects of the volcanic eruptions. A Sarah Fecht release ( was posted on our web site the same day, and International Business Times picked up the story (

    Yesterday, I spent the day in Washington, D.C., at the Members Meeting of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. Presentations on the meeting theme of “Ocean Security” were given by Rear Admiral (ret.) Jonathan White, COL President; Rear Admiral David Hahn, Chief of Naval Research; Rear Admiral (ret.) Timothy Gallaudet, Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting NOAA Administrator; Marcia McNutt, President of the National Academy of Sciences; Lisa Clough, Ocean Section Head, Division of Ocean Sciences, National Science Foundation; and Rodney Cluck, Chief of the Division of Environmental Sciences, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

    This morning I took advantage of the trip to Washington to join Joel Widder of Federal Science Partners, Columbia’s lobbyist firm, on a visit to the Office of Management and Budget. We met with Liuyi (Yi) Pei, a Presidential Management Fellow who for the last eight weeks has served as the OMB budget examiner for the National Science Foundation. Yi obtained her undergraduate degree (from Caltech) only seven years ago, and her Ph.D. (in astrophysics) is only a year old. As she herself expressed, she is “on a steep learning curve” to understand NSF, its programs, and its budget, and we introduced her to NSF-sponsored research at Lamont and across the geosciences more generally.

    This afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium speaker will be marine biologist and ecologist Pincelli Hull, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University ( Prof. Hull will be speaking about “Disentangling the signal of biology and environment in records of Cenozoic oceans.” I hope that you can disentangle yourself from other activities in time to hear her talk.