News and Events

  • June 12, 2012

    Steep mountains produce some of the biggest landslides on earth but in such rugged terrain who’s around to notice? These monster backcountry slides are now gaining attention from far-away scientists, aided by a global network of seismic stations, earth-orbiting satellites and the crowd-sourcing power of the internet.

  • June 07, 2012
    An important piece of earthquake-science history popped up a few weeks ago on Jeopardy: “The Press-Ewing was an early seismograph, recording waves from these events.
     
    If you didn’t know a Press-Ewing from a French press, you were in luck. For $200, all you needed to know to formulate the question is what a seismograph measures.
     
    What is an Earthquake?
  • May 16, 2012

    A 500-foot rock face came crashing down from the Palisades cliffs along the Hudson River in Alpine, N.J. on Saturday night, shaking the ground for more than half a minute and dumping a fresh layer of boulders over a 100-yard strip of parkland below State Line Lookout. The shaking was strong enough to be registered by a seismic station a mile and a half away, at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, but no one was injured.

  • May 07, 2012

    Dendrochronologist Brendan Buckley’s usual occupation is drilling straw-like cores from old trees and extracting information about past climates by studying their rings. To extend the record beyond the time of living trees, he sometimes takes samples from long-dead trees, or even from timbers in ancient buildings. In 2010, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory scientist was part of a team that traveled into the remote Cardamom Mountains of southern Cambodia to investigate human burials contained in coffins carved from entire logs.

  • May 01, 2012

    In an effort to understand how plants around the world will act in a warming climate, researchers have relied increasingly on experiments that measure how they respond to artificial warming. But a new study says that such experiments are underestimating potential advances in the timing of flowering and leafing four to eightfold, when compared with natural observations. As a result, species could change far more quickly than the experiments suggest, with major implications for water supplies, pollination of crops and ecosystems. The comparison, done by an interdisciplinary team from some 20 institutions in North America and Europe, appears this week in the leading journal Nature.

  • April 24, 2012

    City streets can be mean, but somewhere near Brooklyn, a tree grows far better than its country cousins, due to chronically elevated city heat levels, says a new study. The study, just published in the journal Tree Physiology, shows that common native red oak seedlings grow as much as eight times faster in New York’s Central Park than in more rural, cooler settings in the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains. Red oaks and their close relatives dominate areas ranging from northern Virginia to southern New England, so the study may have wide implications for changing climate and forest composition over a wide region.

  • April 22, 2012

    As human ancestors rose on two feet in Africa and began their migrations across the world, the climate around them got warmer, and colder, wetter and drier. The plants and animals they competed with and relied upon for food changed. Did the shifting climate play a direct role in human evolution?

  • April 18, 2012

    Dennis Kent, a leading expert in the history of earth’s magnetic field, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Other members of the 2012 class include U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, playwright Neil Simon, Hollywood director Clint Eastwood and Amazon founder Jeffrey Bezos.

  • April 03, 2012

    Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger and Provost John Coatsworth have named Sean C. Solomon, a leading geophysicist whose research has combined studies of the deep earth with missions to the moon and the solar system’s inner planets, to be director of Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

  • March 29, 2012

    According to a new study, neighborhood differences in rates of childhood asthma may be explained by local levels of soot produced by trucks and residential oil burners. The study, by public-health and air-pollution scientists at Columbia University, appears

    online in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology.

  • March 14, 2012

    The seas are creeping higher as the planet warms, but scientists have not yet reached a consensus about how high they may go. Projections for the year 2100 range from inches to several feet, or more. The sub-tropical islands of Bermuda and the Bahamas contain important sites where researchers have gone looking for answers. By pinpointing where shorelines stood on cliffs and reefs there during an extremely warm period 400,000 years ago, they hope to narrow the range of global sea-level projections for the future.

  • March 01, 2012

    The world’s oceans may be turning acidic faster today from human carbon emissions than they did during four major extinctions in the last 300 million years, when natural pulses of carbon sent global temperatures soaring, says a new study in Science. The study is the first of its kind to survey the geologic record for evidence of ocean acidification over this vast time period.

  • February 29, 2012
    What does the earth look like beneath Mount St. Helens? Did a meteorite clear the ecological landscape for the dinosaurs? How did climate help Genghis Khan and his successors create the world’s largest empire? Just how high did the water rise the last time the ice sheets melted?
     
    In the field this year, scientists from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and other centers of the Earth Institute will try to answer these and many other puzzles. They’ll ski-plane onto sea ice, climb mountains, hike through jungle, bore into rock and dive into the sea, exploring on every continent and in every ocean.

     

     

  • February 21, 2012

    Climate scientists at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science this week were elated to hear that the United States and five other countries had agreed to work toward cutting pollutants other than carbon dioxide thought to cause about a third of current human-influenced global warming. After all, many of them had done the work that led directly to the pact, by showing the effects of such substances, and how emissions might be reduced.

     

  • February 10, 2012

    Russian scientists this week finished penetrating more than two miles through the Antarctic ice sheet to Lake Vostok, a huge freshwater lake that has been buried under the ice for millions of years. The feat has taken two decades to accomplish, but the scientists won’t know what they’ve found until next year — the team quickly exited the research station, located in the middle of the continent 800 miles from the South Pole, to avoid increasingly harsh polar conditions.

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