Lamont Weekly Report, October 30, 2015

     The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the entire Lamont Campus was deeply saddened by the news that Missy Pinckert passed away on Tuesday morning. Missy had served as an Administrative Aide in the DEES Administrative Office at Lamont since 1982.

    Carol Mountain described Missy’s impact on generations of DEES students as follows: “Beginning in the 1980s, Missy was very likely the first person any of our alums met as prospective students. Missy planned visits for about 1000 students in her 33 years in the department. She was very welcoming and made sure that students met with all the people they wanted to see or should have seen. She took very good care of them all. Missy was a meticulous record keeper. She started when there were no computers and no access to databases and carbon paper was in frequent use, and she ended with an iMac. She made sure there were always cookies in the DEES office, which has been an important part of our office culture. She was a sympathetic listener to anyone who needed to talk out a problem. And Missy had an incredible and quirky sense of humor that both charmed and put people as ease. She will be missed very much.”

    Despite the loss of a colleague who had been a fixture on our campus for more than three decades, the usual pattern of mid-fall activities continued apace.

    The Ocean and Climate Physics Division this week welcomed Lamont Postdoctoral Fellow Deepti Singh. A climate dynamicist who specializes in the impact of climate change on extreme events, particularly the South Asian Monsoon, Deepti obtained her Ph.D. from Stanford earlier this year under the supervision of Noah Diffenbaugh. She also holds a B.E. degree in mechanical engineering from Pune University and an M.S.E. in aeronautics and astronautics from Purdue. At Lamont, Deepti will work on the dynamic and thermodynamic mechanisms responsible for moisture convergence over South Asia and their relationship to natural modes of variability, she will seek empirical relations among climate variables to define the environment of tropical monsoon depressions responsible for a large fraction of monsoon rainfall, and she will assess the ability of global climate models to simulate these mechanisms and their response to increased atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases.

    Yesterday, Jing Sun successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis, under the supervision of Ben Bostick. Jing’s thesis was on the topic of “Developing improved strategies of remediating arsenic-contaminated aquifers.” Congratulations, Dr. Sun!

    The week began with the landfall onto Mexico’s Pacific coast of Hurricane Patricia, a storm that intensified unusually rapidly during the prior day and a half, as ably described on a web posting last Friday afternoon by Alison Wing and IRI’s Chia-Ying Lee ( Adam Sobel offered a blog piece the next day arguing that the strorm’s rapid intensification could not have been predicted by current hurricane forecasting models and underscores the need for continued federal investment in this area of research ( Fortunately, following landfall, the storm declined in intensity rapidly as well; no lives were lost, and damage was less than had been feared given the record wind speeds (

    This week also marks the third anniversary of the landfall of Superstorm Sandy. In an opinion piece in The New York Times on Wednesday, Klaus Jacob argued that New York City needs more comprehensive resiliency plans than developed to date in the expectation that the area can expect storm surges similar to that of Sandy in the future (

    On Saturday, in partnership with The Explorers Club, Lamont held its first career fair and mini Open House at the Club's headquarters in Manhattan. The event, entitled "Beyond the Lab, Careers in Science and Sustainability," drew more than 150 middle and high school students from New York and New Jersey. More than 30 scientists, graduate students, and postdoctoral research fellows from Lamont participated in the day’s activities, designed to give middle and high school students an opportunity to learn about exciting careers in science and sustainability and explore some of the latest scientific research at the Observatory. Because Lamont and The Explorers Club share many interests in global exploration and research, this inaugural event may lead to similar joint activities in the future.

    On Sunday morning, the R/V Langseth sailed from Brooklyn en route to the eastern Mediterranean, loaded with ocean-bottom seismometers. The OBSs will be deployed in an NSF-funded experiment, led by Emilie Hooft and Doug Toomey of the University of Oregon, to image the seismic structure of the Santorini volcanic system in the southern Aegean. The ship is scheduled to arrive in Piraeus, Greece, on November 12 or 13.

    On Thursday and Friday, Kerstin Lehnert and Suzanne Carbotte hosted a workshop to discuss IEDA as a model for a multi-institutional and multidisciplinary data facility under EarthCube. Lead scientists from other community facilities and several program managers from NSF participated in the meeting.

    On Tuesday through Thursday, I hosted a meeting of the MESSENGER Science Team at a local hotel, the Hilton Pearl River (where the Sales Manager is Max Dejean, Dennis Kent’s son-in-law). Kim Schermerhorn managed most of the logistical support, and Ellen Crapster-Pregont, Denton Ebel, Alex Evans, and Peter James participated in the meeting. On a rainy Wednesday afternoon, the team took time to visit the Lamont Campus for a brief tour of the Core Repository, led by Mo Raymo, and hear presentations about IcePod from Robin Bell and SeismoDome (or at least its Monell version) from Ben Holtzman. A reception and dinner followed in the Comer Building.

    Remaining for an extra day at Lamont to give this afternoon’s Earth Science Colloquium is MESSENGER Participating Scientist and Science Team member Catherine Johnson, an expert in geomagnetism and planetary physics and a Professor in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of British Columba ( Catherine will be speaking on “Mercury’s magnetic field: Stories from the planet, present and past.” I hope to see you there.