LDEO Research Blogs

  • The barrenness of life and other particulate material in the clear waters of the central South Pacific allows light to penetrate more deeply than anywhere else. Columbia graduate students Frankie Pavia and Sebastian Vivancos are part of an international team of scientists studying the chemistry and biology of the South Pacific on the FS Sonne. They will try to determine input and removal rates of metals and trace elements from the ocean, which are crucial to our understanding of ocean life and past climates.

  • The Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, in San Francisco, is the world’s largest gathering of earth and space scientists. Scores of researchers from the Earth Institute will give presentations. Read about the 2015 and past years’ meetings here.

  • The nations of the world meet in Paris starting Nov. 30 to discuss how to confront climate change. The goal: Keep global temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial average. Many scientists feel that is already impossible. But the United States, China and many other nations have committed to trying. The Earth Institute has long been at the forefront of climate science, policy and possible solutions. Here we offer stories to help readers sort through the issues, the science and the consequences.

  • The U.S. GEOTRACES program launches into the Arctic Ocean as part of a multi-nation, multiple ice-breaker effort to study marine trace elements. Trace elements play two opposing roles in the ocean, as both essential nutrients (iron, zinc, cobalt) and as toxins (arsenic, copper) affecting biologic productivity and carbon cycling. Studying these elements in the Arctic marine system can help us understand the biogeochemical responses to rapid climate change. Lamont-Doherty geochemist Tim Kenna is on the U.S. team, aboard the USCG Cutter Healy research icebreaker.

  • At the base of the polar food chain in the icy waters off Antarctica, phytoplankton are an essential food source for young krill, which in turn sustain many species of marine wildlife. Jeff Bowman is in Antarctica for the field season studying how phytoplankton and bacteria interact, particularly their cooperative interactions. Toxic compounds produced by phytoplankton, for example, may be cleaned up by bacterial partners, allowing photosynthesis to proceed more efficiently, ultimately meaning more food in the food web.