News and Events

  • February 04, 2016

    Last Thursday, thousands of people from southern New Jersey to Long Island and coastal Connecticut felt the earth tremble. Between 1:20 pm and 2:40 pm, dishes, desks and buildings shook for up to 20 seconds—in some locations, several times. With everyone thinking earthquake, Twitter and Facebook lit up; news reporters scrambled; calls poured into police, the U.S. Geological Survey, and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, which maintains the region’s network of 50-some seismographic stations.

  • February 03, 2016

    Twenty thousand years ago, when humans were still nomadic hunters and gatherers, low concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere allowed the earth to fall into the grip of an ice age. But despite decades of research, the reasons why levels of the greenhouse gas were so low then have been difficult to piece together.

  • February 02, 2016

    On every continent and ocean, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory field researchers are studying the dynamics of climate, geology, natural hazards and ecology, and their practical applications to modern problems. Below are some of their expeditions in rough chronological order. Work in and around New York City and the U.S. Northeast is listed separately toward bottom. Use the interactive world map above to explore these projects.

  • February 01, 2016

    If the Montreal Protocol had been rejected and the risks of ozone depleting substances had been ignored by the world, we would be facing even more intense tropical cyclones in the near future, according to a new study.

  • January 28, 2016

    In an effort led by current and former Lamont Tree Ring Lab scientists, the N-TREND consortium (Northern Tree-Ring Network Development) was created to develop a global database of tree-ring research that improves on efforts for developing large-scale temperature reconstructions across the Northern Hemisphere.

  • January 27, 2016

    Scientists plumbing the depths of the central equatorial Pacific Ocean have found ancient sediments suggesting that one proposed way to mitigate climate warming—fertilizing the oceans with iron to produce more carbon-eating algae—may not necessarily work as envisioned.

  • January 25, 2016

    In the water above natural oil seeps in the Gulf of Mexico, where oil and gas bubbles rise almost a mile to break at the surface, scientists have discovered something unusual: phytoplankton, tiny microbes at the base of the marine food chain, are thriving. The oil itself does not appear to help the phytoplankton, but the low concentration of oil found above natural seeps isn’t killing them, and turbulence from the rising oil and gas bubbles is bringing up deep-water nutrients that phytoplankton need to grow, according to a new study appearing in the latest issue of Nature Geoscience.

  • January 22, 2016

    The Columbia Center for Climate & Life at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has announced its 2016 Fellows. Michael Puma is focusing on food security and climate shocks, and Park Williams is exploring the influence of climate change on droughts and wildfires.

  • January 22, 2016

    As the second most recent ice age was ending and its glaciers began to retreat, the Earth experienced a large, abrupt climate change that shifted the thermal equator southward by about 4 degrees, according to a new study that for the first time tracks that shift in millennial detail, showing how the Northern Hemisphere cooled and the Southern Hemisphere warmed over the span of a few hundred years. The change would have affected the monsoons, today relied on to feed more than half the world’s population, and could have helped tip the climate system over the threshold for deglaciation, said lead author Allison Jacobel.

  • January 07, 2016

    The bottom of the ocean just keeps getting better. Or at least more interesting to look at. In an ongoing project, mappers at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory have been gathering data from hundreds of research cruises and turning it all into accessible maps of the ocean floor with resolutions down to 25 meters.

  • December 18, 2015

    Over the last six years, seismologists Göran Ekström and Colin Stark have been perfecting a technique for picking out the seismic signature of large landslides from the stream of seismic data from earthquakes and other activity around the world. The details they are able to extract could one day help governments sound tsunami warnings, help rescuers find landslide-struck villages faster, and warn of risks such as landslide-dammed rivers that could soon burst through.

  • December 15, 2015

    Why does sea level change at different rates? How has it changed in the past? Who will be at risk from more extreme weather and sea level rise in the future? Our scientists often hear questions like these. To help share the answers more widely, we created a new app that lets users explore a series of maps of the planet, from the deepest trenches in the oceans to the ice at the poles. You can see how ice, the oceans, precipitation and temperatures have changed over time and listen as scientists explain what you’re seeing and why.

  • December 15, 2015

    Understanding how lava flows is critical when homes and roads are in a lava flow’s path. A community may have a day to evacuate, or its residents may have a week or more, with enough time to move what they can to safer ground.

  • December 09, 2015

    As excess carbon dioxide is absorbed into the oceans, it is starting to have profound effects on marine life, from oysters to tiny snails at the base of the food chain.

  • December 04, 2015

    A new study questions the popular notion that 10th-century Norse people were able to colonize Greenland because of a period of unusually warm weather. Based upon signs left by old glaciers, researchers say the climate was already cold when the Norse arrived—and that climate thus probably played little role in their mysterious demise some 400 years later. On a larger scale, the study adds to building evidence that the so-called Medieval Warm Period, when Europe enjoyed exceptionally clement weather, did not necessarily extend to other parts of the world.

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