Clone of Strategic Initiatives

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory has been a leader in the study of planet Earth since its founding more than 65 years ago. Today, Observatory scientists continue a long tradition of expanding the frontiers of knowledge in the Earth and planetary sciences. Recently, five initiatives have been identified that should form the focus for new research in the coming decade. These interdisciplinary initiatives represent new directions for the Observatory that are each of particular scientific promise and high societal impact. Read more about each of these five initiatives below.

Climate & Life

The mission of the Climate and Life initiative is to focus research on how climate change shapes, and has shaped, the essentials for human sustainability – specifically the security of food, water, and shelter. Additionally, the initiative will embrace carbon management research to investigate viable carbon capture and storage solutions. The goal of the initiative is to generate new knowledge that serves to guide near-term decision-making by incentivizing our scientists to advance research on the issues that matter most to society.


Real-Time Earth

The Earth sciences are being transformed by immediate access to real-time data from in-situ and remote observing systems, including a growing array of satellites, cabled observatories, and autonomous airborne and underwater observing systems.  This initiative will coordinate efforts to enhance our real-time observational capabilities as well as develop a strong engineering support system. This initiative also endeavors to leverage the extensive Earth science database activities within Lamont to ensure the Observatory’s ability to lead in this technological and scientific revolution.

Anticipating Earthquakes

Since 2000, over 800,000 deaths from earthquakes and associated tsunamis. Lamont as an international knowledge center for the study of fractures and faults in Earth’s crust, the devastating earthquakes they produce, and their relationship to humankind.  At it's core, this initiative seeks a comprehensive understanding of  the processes producing great earthquakes and the faults that they are located on so as to  better anticipate and mitigate their impact on humanity.

Changing Ice, Changing Coastlines

As polar ice sheets melt and sea levels rise, the water degrades coastlines, encroaches on cities, businesses, and homes, and affects the health and sustainability of economically valuable estuaries and coral reef ecosystems. For the first time, an institution is assembling a team of experts across the wide range of disciplines needed to understand holistically how sea level and coastlines changed in the past, what is driving the current ice sheet changes, and how fast sea level will rise in the future. The goal of the Changing Ice, Changing Coastlines initiative is to understand how fast sea level will rise in the coming decades by quantifying the past, measuring the present, and forecasting the future so humanity has the knowledge it needs to prepare and respond.


Extreme Weather & Climate

In a routine year for the U.S. and across the globe, extreme weather and climate events – tornadoes, tropical cyclones, floods, droughts, heat waves, and severe storms – cause massive loss of life, physical harm, destruction of homes, businesses, and infrastructure, and social, economic, and ecological disruption. The Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate was formed to understand the basic science of extreme weather events in the context of climate change, establish comprehensive risk assessments, and develop engineering solutions to protect life and property in our changing environment. Lamont is unique in its ability to tackle the dual problems of predicting the risk of occurrence of extreme events as well as their associated impacts.