October 11, 2016


Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Lamont Associate Research Professor, Senior Staff

The Challenge

Reliable access to food, water, shelter, and energy is essential for human life. Climate change linked to carbon emissions is putting all four at risk and raising new questions about human resilience, adaptation, and sustainability. A scientific innovation gap is hindering our ability to answer these questions: Climate is changing faster than our ability to keep pace, yet federal research support is polarized and declining. We propose a new funding model.

The Initiative

The Center for Climate and Life is mobilizing scientists across disciplines to accelerate understanding of how climate impacts the security of food, water, and shelter, and to explore sustainable energy solutions. We are partnering with industry, finance, and governments to share knowledge through conferences, research projects, and executive education programs to build a more resilient, sustainable world.

What’s Needed

Our ambitious vision for the Center for Climate and Life depends on recruiting and supporting exceptional scientists with the intellectual curiosity and creativity to work on challenging and urgent research problems. It requires resources: state-of-the-art laboratories, instrumentation and computational resources and rapid project funding to enable researchers to move quickly and investigate the world’s most pressing problems. Endowment funds will be used to establish a prestigious, competitive Fellows program to support scientists and their research, spur innovation, and accelerate scientific discovery. Knowledge transfer to the private sector will be accomplished through science-business partnerships and hosting round table meetings to engage stakeholders. In addition, the center plans a new building to house campus computation centers and labs. With visionary donors as our partners, researchers at the Center for Climate and Life will be at the forefront of efforts that can address these existential challenges.

Why Lamont?

Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is renowned for its more than 65-year history of scientific leadership and discoveries. Its scientists provided the definitive evidence for the theory of plate tectonics, documented the ocean’s role in initiating abrupt climate change, discovered that the ice ages were paced by Earth orbital changes, and developed the first model to predict El Niño. As the highest-ranked Earth science graduate education program in the nation, we attract top talent from around the world. As a center, we also draw on intellectual assets in related fields across Columbia University, including agriculture, climate prediction, data science, remote sensing, public health, climate policy, and law.