Lamont Weekly Report, November 21, 2012

    It’s been a short workweek, truncated by a welcome opportunity to give thanks for family, friends, colleagues, and professional progress over the past year.
    It is saddening, however, that geodesist and tectonophysicist John Beavan, a long-term member of the scientific staff at Lamont, succumbed to bladder cancer this past weekend. John rose through the ranks to senior staff at the Observatory from 1976 to 1993, when he left to take a position as Crustal Dynamics Geophysicist at GNS Science in New Zealand. John held an appointment as an Adjunct Senior Research Scientist at Lamont until 2000. His research contributed broadly to our understanding of plate boundary deformation, fault mechanics, and the characteristics of major earthquakes around the Pacific.
    Lamont scientists continued to be featured in media stories over the past week. Adam Sobel was one of several experts interviewed on the NOVA documentary on Hurricane Sandy, “Inside the Megastorm,” which first aired on PBS last week. The show is available online at Andy Juhl’s efforts to measure Sandy’s impact on water quality in the Hudson River is the subject of a new video that follows Andy and the environmental group Riverkeeper on a sampling expedition a week and a half after the storm: Last week’s Columbia University symposium on "Warming Arctic, Changing Planet," co-sponsored by Lamont, was followed by interviews of panelists Nathalie Boelman, Kevin Griffin, and Stephanie Pfirman on LiveScience:
    On the federal front, both the AGU ( and the American Institute of Physics ( issued updates this week on executive and legislative branch efforts to limit travel to conferences by government employees. Such regulations restrict the participation by federal agency scientists in scientific meetings, such as next month’s AGU Fall Meeting. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Astronomical Society, AGU, and other scientific societies have joined forces to press Congress to relieve such restrictions on conference travel in the interest of promoting open communication and collaboration in the sciences.
    Next Tuesday and Wednesday, the Earth Institute will stage the first meeting of the Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Among the objectives of the meeting is the determination of the appropriate set of thematic groups to address network goals, including the championing of specific solutions for sustainable development challenges and their early-stage demonstration and development.
    Next Wednesday afternoon, Lamont’s Advisory Board will meet in the Comer Building. The Board will hear reports on progress at the Observatory across a broad front, from scientific discoveries to strategic planning, and from media outreach to underway changes in Observatory management. The Board will hear a scientific presentation from Terry Plank and will be treated to a tour of Lamont’s nearly completed set of laboratories for our new colleagues in the biogeosciences.
    On Friday of next week, Lamont will host a visit by Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of NOAA. Her visit will afford an opportunity for discussions with staff scientists and a tour of the facilities and laboratories on the Lamont Campus. She will be presenting a seminar on extreme weather at 1:30 that afternoon that I hope most of you can attend.
    That Friday will be at least a two-seminar day. The Earth Science Colloquium features Shaun Lovejoy of McGill, an expert in nonlinear geophysics who will be speaking on “The climate is not what you expect.”
    I’m on vacation today, sitting in a beach house in South Carolina and watching the morning Sun reflect off the surf, and I can’t help imagining the impact of a Sandy-sized hurricane on this stretch of Atlantic coast. But grandchildren arrived last night, and I can hope that among the reasons for thanksgiving is that the lessons learned from that storm can benefit generations to come.