Lamont Weekly Report, September 21, 2018

    The flooding across the Carolinas caused by the extraordinary rainfall during Hurricane Florence continued this week long after the storm dissipated and moved north, as swollen rivers crested to different degrees and at different times. Radley Horton explained some of the distinctive aspects of this storm, and their relation to climate change, on PBS NewsHour late last week, just prior to landfall ( Adam Sobel graciously invited me to coauthor an op-ed piece this past weekend on CNN, with substantial contributions from Joel Widder at Federal Science Partners, about the importance of this nation’s past investments in the science of extreme storms to our current ability to forecast days in advance the severity, path, and consequences of hurricanes such as Florence (

    The R/V Marcus Langseth is now conducting the Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount Seismic Experiment (, led by Donna Shillington, Tony Watts, and Rob Dunn from the University of Hawaii. The ship departed Honolulu last week ahead of schedule to avoid the passage of Hurricane Olivia. The science party has deployed 70 ocean-bottom seismometers, and they recovered about a dozen additional OBSs that had been deployed off the island of Hawaii to monitor seismicity associated with the recent eruption of Kilauea. The remainder of the cruise will be devoted to collecting two-dimensional multi-channel seismic data and three-dimensional OBS tomographic data to determine the deep structure of the island chain and surrounding region. The Langseth will deploy its 15.5-km-long streamer for the MCS surveys and will collect gravity and magnetic field, multibeam, and other data as well.

    The Ocean and Climate Physics Division welcomed the arrival of Postdoctoral Research Scientist Kuniaki Inoue this week. Kuni received a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences two years ago from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He spent the last two years as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL). At Lamont, Kuni plans to work with Michela Biasutti and Ann Fridlind at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies on the dynamics of precipitation in both maritime and continental regions in the tropics.

    Two recent arrivals to Ryan Abernathey’s group are Postdoctoral Research Scientist Mu Xu and visiting student Tongya Liu. Mu received a 2017 Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech, where his thesis was a study of spatiotemporal chaos in large systems driven far from equilibrium. With support from the Center for Climate and Life and the Data Science Institute, he will be working at Lamont on the application of deep learning to the parameterization of ocean mesoscale turbulence. Tongya, a Ph.D. student of Dake Chen at Zhejiang University, will spend one year at Lamont working with Ryan on the role of coherent mesoscale eddies in the transport of potential vorticity in the oceans.

    The Biology and Paleo Environment Division, in turn, recently welcomed Winslow Hansen as a new Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellow. Winslow is a forest ecologist who uses vegetation modeling to explore how forests are affected by climate, fire, and management practices. Winslow's postdoctoral research will explore how North American boreal forests would respond to a variety of future forest management pathways. Lamont colleagues will have an opportunity to hear about Winslow’s work on Monday afternoon (1 pm) next week, when he will give the weekly BPE seminar in the Comer Seminar Room on "The resilience and reorganization of 21st century high-elevation and high-latitude conifer forests in western North America."

    On Monday, Lamont’s Advisory Board held their semi-annual meeting. After lunchtime sessions of the Board’s Education and Marketing Committees, the full Board met in the Kennedy Board Room of the Comer Building. The Board met, most for the first time, and heard presentations from Alex Halliday and Meghan Fay. Alex shared his vision for the Earth Institute and the role of Lamont in some of the new initiatives that he envisions for the institute. Meghan described the newly integrated development team at Lamont and EI and the opportunities for the Observatory presented by Columbia’s capital campaign now underway.

    This week is Postdoc Appreciation Week (, and to show our appreciation Kuheli Dutt and Columbia University’s Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA) jointly organized a postdoc lunch on Monday. Twenty of our postdoctoral scientists attended the event and heard from OPA Director Ericka Peterson and OPA Assistant Director Anna Womack on programs available to postdocs through both OPA and Kuheli’s office.

    The 2018 West Antarctic Ice Sheet Workshop was held from Monday to Wednesday this week at the Stony Point Center, and on Wednesday the group held their scientific sessions at Lamont and filled Monell Auditorium ( Indrani Das co-organized the workshop, along with Ted Scambos from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and many from the Observatory gave oral or poster presentations or joined the workshop audience. A meeting of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration ( followed the WAIS Workshop on Wednesday and Thursday.

    Polar ice sheets were much in the news this week, beginning with NASA’s launch on Saturday of the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, spacecraft from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California (; the spacecraft carries the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System to track changes in ice sheet elevation and address other objectives. Also, a feature-length article in the October issue of Air and Space Magazine by Alexandra Witze on melting of the major ice sheets ( includes a quote from Marco Tedesco.

    On Tuesday, Lamont’s web site gained a story by freelance writer Renee Cho on the Hudson River Comprehensive Restoration Plan (, released last month by Partners Restoring the Hudson ( The article cites the contributions of Andy Juhl and Margie Turrin, as well as the lead role played by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network in preparing the report.

    Yesterday afternoon, Sage Li successfully defended her thesis on “Asian summer monsoon response to greenhouse gases and anthropogenic aerosols.” In addition to her thesis supervisor, Mingfang Ting, Sage’s committee included Michela Biasutti, Arlene Fiore, Yochanan Kushnir, and Yi Ming from GFDL and Princeton University. Sage is herself headed next to GFDL, where she has lined up a postdoctoral position to work on monsoon extremes and cloud-aerosol interactions in the Southern Ocean.

    For all of you who are members of the American Geophysical Union, the opportunity to vote in the current election will end on Tuesday of next week. If you have not yet voted, please do so, and please consider supporting Suzana Camargo and Suzanne Carbotte. Suzana is a candidate for Secretary of the Natural Hazards Section, and Suzanne is a candidate for Secretary of the Tectonophysics Section.

    The new Earth Science Colloquium season kicks off this afternoon with a seminar by climate scientist Abhishek Chatterjee, from the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center ( Dr. Chatterjee will be speaking on “Constraining carbon cycle dynamics using contemporary observations: Achievements, challenges and opportunities.” Please take advantage of the opportunity to rise to the challenge of a new Colloquium season. Seeing many of you in the audience for the lecture will feel like a major achievement.