News and Events

  • 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.

  • January 23, 2012

    In California’s Death Valley, death is looking just a bit closer. Geologists have determined that the half-mile-wide Ubehebe Crater, formed by a prehistoric volcanic explosion, was created far more recently than previously thought—and that conditions for a sequel may exist today.

     

  • January 19, 2012

    Meteorologists can see a busy hurricane season brewing months ahead, but until now there has been no such crystal ball for tornadoes, which are much smaller and more volatile. This information gap took on new urgency after tornadoes in 2011 killed more than 550 people, more than in the previous 10 years combined, including a devastating outbreak in April that racked up $5 billion in insured losses..

  • January 06, 2012

    Earthquakes that have shaken an area just outside Youngstown, Ohio in the last nine months—including a substantial one on New Year’s Eve—are likely linked to a disposal well for injecting wastewater used in the hydraulic fracturing process, say seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory who were called in to study the quakes.

  • December 21, 2011

    In many ways, the tiny, landlocked eastern Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan sits apart from the modern world; its rugged landscapes cradle swift-flowing rivers, expansive old-growth forests and hundreds of glaciers. Combining selective modernization with ancient traditions, it is the only country that uses Gross National Happiness as a metric for success. But the world is intruding. Rapid climate change is melting glaciers across the Himalayas, creating deadly flash-flood hazards and threatening a water system that feeds agriculture and hydropower here and for more than a billion people in the plains below.

  • December 02, 2011

    Scientists at Columbia University’s Earth Institute will present important new studies at the Dec. 5-9 meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, the world’s largest gathering of earth and space scientists. Below: a chronological guide (Pacific Standard Time).

  • November 16, 2011

    In the first statewide climate change outlook for New York, scientists say that the state may suffer disproportionate effects in coming decades compared with other regions, due to its geography and geology. The report paints a harsh picture, including possible extreme temperature and sea-level rises, downpours, droughts and floods. The changes are projected to affect nearly every region and facet of the economy by the 2080s, from ski resorts and dairy farms to New York City’s subways, streets and businesses.

  • November 16, 2011

    Buried below more than a mile of ice, Antarctica’s Gamburtsev Mountains have baffled scientists since their discovery in 1958. How did the mountains get there, and what role did they play in the spread of glaciers over the continent 30 million years ago? In the latest study on the mountains, scientists this week in the journal Nature say they have pieced together the puzzle of the origins and evolution of this mysterious mountain chain.

  • November 11, 2011

    “I was deeply saddened by the loss of one of our most beautiful trees on campus during the last storm. It had perfect symmetry and such a beautiful color display late in the fall,” wrote geochemist Martin Stute, after a highly unusual heavy October snow felled a 22-year-old Bradford pear at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, where he works. The tree had stood since 1989 in front of the Seismology/Marine Biology building–for many, a shady regular lunch spot, and stately natural contrast to the squat, corrugated-metal architecture of the human structure behind it. Stute emailed Lamont colleagues his brief eulogy, with an attached picture of the tree in happier days. Dozens replied.

  • November 10, 2011
    Evergreen trees at the edge of Alaska’s tundra are growing faster, suggesting that at least some forests may be adapting to a rapidly warming climate, says a new study.
     
  • October 26, 2011

    The retreat of Antarctica’s fast-flowing Thwaites Glacier is expected to speed up within 20 years, once the glacier detaches from an underwater ridge that is currently holding it back, says a new study in Geophysical Research Letters.

    Thwaites Glacier, which drains into west Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea, is being closely watched for its potential to raise global sea levels as the planet warms. Neighboring glaciers in the Amundsen region are also thinning rapidly, including Pine Island Glacier and the much larger Getz Ice Shelf. The study is the latest to confirm the importance of seafloor topography in predicting how these glaciers will behave in the near future.

     

  • October 24, 2011
    Modern society is awash in data. By one estimate, as much information today is created in 48 hours as was produced in the last 30,000 years. The challenge now is making all those megabytes public.
     
     
  • October 18, 2011

    A major new international prize for public communication on climate-change issues has been awarded to Gavin Schmidt of the Earth Institute-affiliated NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

  • October 10, 2011

    Study has shown that deep sediments can grab the arsenic and take it out of circulation—a finding that may help to keep wells safe elsewhere, including in the United States. The study, led by researchers at Columbia University’s Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, appears in the current online edition of the journal.

  • October 07, 2011

    The Hudson River that explorer Henry Hudson sailed some 400 years ago had no power plants on its shores. No trains, bridges, factories or houses. Those innovations changed the river, leaving a legacy of PCBs, sewage and other pollutants. But pollution is just one way that humans have transformed the river. A small way, it turns out.

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