Lamont Weekly Report, January 4, 2013

    It’s a second three-day workweek in a row, this one with a thin layer of snow on the ground, a new calendar on the wall, and the promise of new adventures as the next twelve months unfold. 

    Today marked the arrival to Lamont of Craig Manning, who is spending the spring semester at the Observatory while on sabbatical leave from the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at UCLA. A Professor of Geology and Geochemistry and recent department chair, Craig is an expert on high-pressure aqueous geochemistry, metamorphic petrology, and submarine and terrestrial hydrothermal systems. Craig is reportedly the first of three distinguished springtime visitors to be assigned to a single small office in Comer. We can all look forward to myriad productive interactions over the coming term. 

    This has been a good couple of weeks for Klaus Jacob. In its Christmas Eve issue, Time magazine named Klaus as one of the “People Who Mattered in 2012,” because of his work anticipating the impact of a severe storm surge such as the one delivered by Hurricane Sandy ( Moreover, in the 7 January issue of The New Yorker, Klaus and his analyses are featured in an article by Eric Klineberg on “How can cities be ‘climate-proofed’?” ( 

    Others from Lamont have also recently been in the news. A paper in Nature Climate Change by Richard Seager, Mingfang Ting, Benjamin Cook, and others on drought conditions expected in the American southwest over the coming decade was featured in stories last week in the Los Angeles Times (,0,5925540.story) and other newspapers. A paper in review by Adam Sobel and Timothy Hall (GISS) on the unusual trajectory of Hurricane Sandy was cited in a story on WNYC News this Wednesday ( And Martin Stute was interviewed today on The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC on the topic of the current helium shortage (

    The news from Washington this week provided entertainment even if it did not engender confidence in the ability of our nation’s Legislative and Executive branches to govern effectively. We as a nation were pulled back, in the style of the Road Runner cartoon character, from one fiscal cliff, even as we now head collectively for a more foreboding precipice two months from now. Professional societies such as AGU ( are calling on members of the scientific community to contact their legislators, in advance of budget decisions ahead, to underscore the importance to our nation of a vibrant scientific enterprise. 

    Although the three-day workweek has its special appeal, the flux of e-mail traffic and the pace of meetings now signal that a return to the five-day week will be needed to keep up with the uptick in activity.