Lamont Weekly Report, September 25, 2020

     Hello Friends,  How has your Climate Week NYC been going?  Given that for many of us every week is climate week, maybe you didn’t pay much attention to this event.  But it is pretty amazing and inspiring when you scroll through all the events and lectures devoted to imagining a pathway toward a decarbonized <2°C warmer world.  It gives me hope to see people from so many different fields envisioning a better way forward.  It also excites me about the potential of the Columbia Climate School in focusing the transdisciplinary power of one of the world’s great universities on the greatest challenge humans have ever simultaneously created and faced.

     Hands down my favorite Climate Week event was “Sea Level Change: a SciArt Concert and Lecture” which was co-hosted by the Earth Institute and New York City Climate Week. The work, a multimedia music video and lecture featuring DEES Professor Jacky Austermann, was originally commissioned by the German Consulate, who wanted to host an in person SciArt concert and lecture on sea level change. As Jacky recounts, “After the pandemic hit, we adjusted plans and turned this into a music video and a virtual concert and lecture”. Jacky collaborated with Eve O’Donnell (a composer and artistic producer at National Sawdust) and Lea Luka Sikau (a mezzo-soprano and ethnomusicology PhD student at the University of Cambridge) and I can assure you the result is beautiful and moving.  And scientific!  The seven minute video is at link above, but I’m also adding the link to the full program, which includes Jacky’s accompanying lecture that provides scientific context as well as explanations of the science behind the music. I hope we can get a repeat Zoom performance including Q+A with the artists and Jacky during Lamont Open House week.

     Yesterday the LDEO Hudson River Field Station also participated in the Hudson River Park's first virtual SUBMERGE Marine Science Festival.  The festival connects New York residents to their coastal waters through marine science education.  Lamont scientists and educators Margie Turrin and Laurel Zaima presented a video with Q+ A about the “wide bays” section of the Hudson River (where Lamont's field station is located). Haverstraw Bay, just north of Piermont Pier, is deemed the most critical habitat area on the Hudson River due to its role as a nursery and spawning ground for many fish species. Margie and Laurel discussed the impacts that climate change can have on this critical ecosystem and solutions that climate stewards can implement to help mitigate climate change. Oh menhaden, we have not forgotten ye!

     Not everyone is cut out for the media spotlight but Park Williams and Radley Horton always seem to make it look easy!  Park was featured on a CBSN special this week and Radley appeared on the Today show with Al Roker Monday morning.

     Moving on to an object lesson in the power of a great headline, who cannot click on “The Shotgun Scientist Who Hunts Moving Trees”?  Huh?  A shotgun scientist?  Are they riding shotgun or really carrying a shotgun?!  And moving trees?  How do trees move and why does he or she hunt them?  Must click now.  And, of course, it is a great story about one of our rifle-wielding graduate students Angelica Patterson!  Talk about having a variety of instruments in one’s scientific toolbox.  Behind this great headline is a great scientific story.  Patterson and her colleagues are investigating how climate change is impacting the physiology of trees in Black Rock Forest. She explains, “We’re trying to build a clearer picture of how the trees are currently surviving, how competitive they are and at what rate they may or may not be able to keep up with this shift in climatic conditions.”  If you want to know where the rifle comes in, you’ll have to click on the link (no, she is not using it to shoot rattle snakes, which would be illegal anyway).

     Of course, that is the perfect segue into yet another 24 hours that reminded me of why I love Lamont and my Lamont colleagues so much.  Yes, it’s a snake-a-palooza!  The animals are taking over the campus during our COVID shutdown!  And our dedicated facilities professionals are catching deadly snakes and relocating them deep into the woods.  There is lots of excellent advice and information being shared on the email chain, including what to do if you hear a rattle, as well as links to outside sources of expert advice. And because this is a full-service newsletter (and I didn’t see this info in the email chain), I did call Valley Cottage Animal Hospital (which provides emergency animal care) and they confirmed that they have rattlesnake antivenom for our canine companions and feline friends.  And of course, Nyack Hospital takes care of the humanoids.  All of which reminds me of the epic rabbit-snake battle of 2018(?), recorded by Carmine of B+G, and also possibly to remind Howie Matza to send out his annual wildlife natural hazards email.  Finally, I would love to hear who adopted cute little Mojo – Maine Coon cats are the best.  I bet I wasn’t the only one who spent a few moments trying to convince themselves they needed a cat.

     I have not forgotten last week’s questions.  Thanks to all who sent answers to the query of whether Sue Trumbore was Wally’s first female grad student.  She was not and was preceded by Sherry Schiff (1986), Sara Langer (who sadly passed away and whom the memorial book prize was named), and Marilyn Buchholtz (1987).  With respect to Joan Feynman, Sean Solomon proved he still has his research chops and within hours had discovered that when Joan worked at Lamont in the 1960s she went by the name Joan Hirshberg. He found two 1963 papers published in JGR. They were sole-authored but thanked Jim Heirtzler in the acknowledgments.  In another article Sean found, Joan is quoted as saying, “Lamont was a great place to work. They do fundamental science”. Joan recounted the story of “a colleague rushing in excitedly one day to share the news that the sample cores collected by the Lamont Observatory research ship drilling in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean had provided a great discovery. “The continents are moving,” he declared. Recalling her bedtime stories about continental drift read to her by her father all those years before, she replied, “When did they stop?””  It sounds like Joan had a great, dry sense of humor. 

     Lastly, a cafeteria update!  Rich says that take-home entrees can be ordered and prepared online, along with food staples.  “If you live in the area and want to grab a quick meal, we will carry your order down to your car for a no-contact pickup. Ordering and payment also do not require contact.”  More info can be found on their Facebook page and he welcomes feedback, suggestions, and comments.  Thanks, Richie!

     I hope everyone has a relaxing weekend.  Tomorrow is NASA’s International Observe the Moon Night so fire up those eyeballs, binoculars, and telescopes, throw on a down jacket, and get outside and share in the magic of the Waxing Gibbous Moon.  Resources and information for educators, students and citizens on how to participate from home can be found here.

     Enjoy,  Mo








Anthropogenic Climate Change Accelerating Faster than Earlier, Natural Analogs

Advanced Science News

September 23, 2020

Article on research by Lamont Ph.D. Laura Haynes and paleoclimatologist Bärbel Hönisch.


The Hidden Light of Ice

Pioneer Works

September 22, 2020

Article by Lamont polar scientist Marco Tedesco.


Rising Temperatures from Climate Change and Extreme Wildfires Go Hand-in-Hand, Scientist Says

WBUR Here & Now

September 22, 2020

Interview with Lamont bioclimatologist Park Williams.


Will 2020 Be the Tipping Point in Our Climate Emergency?


September 21, 2020

Interview with Lamont climate scientist Radley Horton.


Dr. Rachel Lupien, Paleoclimatologist

Time Scavengers

September 21, 2020

Article features Lamont paleoclimatologist Rachel Lupien.


Underwater and on Fire: US Climate Change Magnifies Extremes


September 19, 2020

Article quotes Lamont climate scientist Richard Seager and bioclimatologist Park Williams.


Scientist Solved Mysteries of the Sun and Magnetic Fields

Wall Street Journal

September 18, 2020

Article features astrophysicist Joan Feynman whose career launched at Lamont.


Scientists Say Droughts Would Be Half as Severe Without Human-Caused Climate Change

CBS News

September 17, 2020

Interview with Lamont bioclimatologist Park Williams.


Ocean Carbon: Humans Outpace Ancient Volcanoes

FARS News Agency

September 17, 2020

Article on research by Lamont Ph.D. Laura Haynes and paleoclimatologist Bärbel Hönisch.


Ocean's Hidden Heat Measured with Earthquake Sounds

Science Magazine

September 17, 2020

Video features sounds supplied by Lamont Seismic Sound Lab.


"A Climate in Crisis"

CBS News

September 17, 2020

Interview with Lamont bioclimatologist Park Williams (02:40).


Shoots and Leaves: The Shotgun Scientist Who Hunts Moving Trees

The Guardian

September 17, 2020

Article features Lamont Ph.D. student Angelica Patterson.




Stability Check on Antarctica Reveals High Risk for Long-Term Sea Level Rise

September 23, 2020

The warmer it gets, the faster Antarctica will lose ice, and at some point the losses will become irreversible. That is what researchers say in a new cover story in the leading journal Nature, in which they calculate how much warming the Antarctic Ice Sheet can survive.


Warmer Temperatures Drive Arctic Greening

September 22, 2020

Using satellite images spanning decades, a new study has found that the northern tundra is becoming greener, as warmer air and soil temperatures lead to increased plant growth.


Pod of the Planet Ep. 10: The Ice Sheet Goeth

September 22, 2020

In this episode, Kevin Krajick explores Marco Tedesco’s obsession with the cryosphere—the part of earth that consists of frozen water.


Europe’s 'Great Famine' Years Were Some of the Soggiest in Centuries

September 22, 2020

Unrelenting rains led to a miserable famine in Europe from 1315-1317. Just how wet was it? A new study reveals that the beginning of the famine included some of the wettest years in the last 700 years.


We Must Do Better at Managing the Wilderness that Remains

September 21, 2020

Humanity is failing at preserving biodiversity. But a book from 2006 offers inspiration and instructions on how to preserve what’s left of it.


Lamont Alumna Receives Prestigious Prize

September 18, 2020

Susan Trumbore, who earned her Ph.D. at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, is among the recipients of the 2020 Balzan Prize, one of the most prestigious international awards in natural science and humanities.